We got really interested in the future of space exploration when the space shuttle Discovery flew by our house back in April. I dedicated a couple of blog posts to it because the kids and I were so excited. It was the end of an era for the Space Shuttle Program. A new chapter in space exploration has been in the works for a number of years now. Yesterday the first commercial spacecraft safely docked at the International Space Station and this morning the hatch was opened.
SpaceX’s cargo ship, Dragon, docked with the International Space Station. This morning (Sat. at 5:53am EST) the hatch opened. Over the course of the next four days more than 1,000 pounds of cargo will be uploaded onto the Space Station. It is scheduled to splashdown several hundred miles west of California on May 31st.
Images courtesy of NASA TV.
You can watch the amazing NASA videos of the Dragon’s berth here.
This is the first private spacecraft ever launched and sent to the space station. This ushers in a new era for space exploration. With the private sector taking over responsibility for transportation to the ISS, it frees NASA to focus on other projects like sending astronauts to an asteroid and eventually on to Mars. Orion is the flagship of the US’s next generation space fleet and it has already already undergone a number of successful tests. The Orion is a space exploration spacecraft that could support long-duration deep space missions of up to six months. Here is a really detailed NASA document about the Orion if you are interested in learning more about the future of long-range space exploration. This document shares lots of photos of the Orion, its first flight test, and goes into lots of detail about technology innovations, crew training and more.
Picture of the Orion taken at the Discovery Festival that we attended last April.