Aerospace geeks everywhere have had cause to rejoice this month, with private space transportation firm Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in Hawthorne, California, logging an historic commercial space flight achievement.
SpaceX engineers launched a Falcon 9 two-stage, rocket-powered spaceflight launch system carrying a Dragon reusable spacecraft to orbit from SpaceX’s launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 3:44 a.m. Eastern on 25 May 2012. SpaceX designed, developed, manufactured, and tested both the Falcon 9 and the Dragon.
The effects of this historic aerospace event rippled throughout the aerospace community, and they are still being realized. It has already proven to quiet critics of commercial space flight, also described as human spaceflight privatization, which is being pioneered by visionaries and entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk (SpaceX), Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), Jim Benson (SpaceDev and Benson Space Company founder), Jeff Greason (XCOR Aerospace), and others.
In fact, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reportedly named the company’s Dragon spacecraft after Peter, Paul, and Mary’s 1963 hit song “Puff, the Magic Dragon” in response to critics who called his spaceflight projects impossible. Ribbing aside, it seems as though Musk is taking the doubters and growing controversy in stride.
“In some cases, people have had legitimate concerns because there’s no precedent for what we’re doing here,” Musk admitted following the 25 May launch. “I hope that the success of this mission, thus far at least, will dispel some of the doubts that people have,” Musk told reporters after launch.
This space geek is excited about the private rocket launch, which could usher in a whole new era of space travel.