Saturday, July 3, 2010

Falcon 9: First flight highlights from SpaceX

SpaceX website released this more detailed compilation of highlights from the June 4, 2010 Falcon 9 Flight 1 Mission in high definition on June 18, 2010.

Photo credit: SpaceX/Chris Thompson

I was not not able to watch the launch live via web cam as I was still at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah as part of Crew-95. However, as soon as I got to Grand Junction (civilization), I logged on and watched the launch over and over again. I was absolutely thrilled and excited that SpaceX had achieved a successful first launch of the Falcon 9 and the Dragon mock-up. With the cancellation of Constellation and the Aries rocket and the Orion spacecraft, the Falcon 9/Dragon may end up being the only manned American spacecraft in the near future that can ferry astronauts to LEO. For those of us who dream and aspire to be astronauts this now appears to be the path towards achieving that goal. I had applied to be a NASA astronaut back in 2003 and 2008, but with a large pool of highly trained astronauts with few flights as ISS astronauts and no spacecraft (after the retirement of the space Shuttle in early 2011) it appears that the path to being an astronaut through our national space effort is soon becoming very limiting. I love NASA, I am so proud of what they have achieved, I have followed the Space Shuttle and ISS programs from their first flights but it appears that a new era of space exploration is just starting with several private companies tackling the challenge of commercializing space. SpaceX is at the forefront and they are down the road located in Hawthorne in Southern California (about 40 minutes drive from where I live in Irvine, Orange County). Every time I drive to LAX I try to locate their building which is located by the 405 and Hawthorne airport. Congratulations SpaceX, and best wishes for the second flight of Falcon 9 and the Dragon spacecraft. It is rumored that the second flight of the Falcon 9/Dragon is scheduled for some time in August/September.

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