Hey Space Placers!
Check out the launch video of Space X from May 22, 2012: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120523.html. This is a significant milestone in the history of US spaceflight as it marks the first time a commercial company and not a government agency, has sent a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
The Dargon spacecraft launched by the Falcon 9 rocket is chasing ISS and will catch up with the station this weekend. The ISS's robotic arm will capture Dragon and couple it to the docking station. Astronauts onboard ISS will unload the 1,200 pounds of supplies and fill the capsule up with items for return to Earth. Dragon can carry over 7,000 pounds of cargo but was lightly loaded during this test flight.
Dragon will be uncoupled from ISS via the robotic arm in a few weeks and will return to spalshdown off the California coast. If all goes well with the remainder of the mission it is a big, big step forward to commercial space coming of age. With SPace X regularly supplying ISS the US will no longer have to rely on the Russians. It will also help to get the manned spaceflight program of Space X that farther along.
Getting commercial spaceflight on a routine schedule will open space to more people and possibilities eventually. NASA now has to hold up its end of the equation by getting out to the solar system with new spacecraft, rockets and missions.
Sky Guy in VA