They made it!!!

After months of preparations, set-backs, testing, an aborted launch 0.5 seconds before launch (I didn’t even know that was possible!), and lots of nail-biting, the next stage of space travel has begun.  This morning, at 3:44 am EST, Spacex’s Falcon9 rocket lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Headed for the International Space Station, if all goes well the Dragon capsule will deliver nearly 1,200 pounds of supplies and 15 student experiments for the astronauts and cosmonauts currently on board the space station.  The Dragon capsule is designed to carry over 7,000 pounds of supplies, but since this is the first test flight and delivery, materials have been kept to a minimum.

A new age.  As I sat at my computer screen this morning, watching the live feed of the launch, I felt the tingles of nervousness…there were so many unknowns.  A private company had never launched at Kennedy Space Center before.  Would it actually launch?  The countdown seemed too fast–were we ready?  So many other considerations–the first stage went well–would that stage separate?  Would the second stage fire?  Since I was born after Mercury and Gemini missions, I was the product of a space age already tested on many levels.  Now, sitting here, watching something entirely new, I had an inkling of what it must have been like earlier in space exploration, when there were so many more untested missions.  And here we are again, as the commercial sector reaches out for space and takes first steps.  Sometime we will look back on this day, and say what many said about NASA’s first flights…that we remember when…

And opportunities have changed as well.  As mentioned above, 15 student experiments are aboard.  Part of the “Aquarius” program,

http://ssep.ncesse.org

students from grades 5 through community college had the opportunity to submit a proposal and get an experiment tested.  The website above provides other opportunities for students to get involved with experiments that will go to space.  Whether brought to the space station by SpaceX, or the Russian Soyuz rocket, or yet another vehicle, the opportunities remain, as never before, for everyone to get involved.  So here’s to an exciting new  space age.

 

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~ by alanotte on May 22, 2012.

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