SpaceX is a private company who is developing launch vehicles, rockets, capable of delivering capsules into space. The capsule can deliver cargo to orbit or to the space station; they are working on capsules to carry astronauts. The Dragon capsule pictured above was launched from a Falcon 9 on December 8, 2010 and was the first private spacecraft to return to Earth from orbit.
Garrett Reisman, former NASA Astronaut (ISS, STS-123, STS-124, STS-132) is now the senior engineer at SpaceX in charge of mission assurance and astronaut safety. Colbert Report fans may remember Garrett as the astronaut who wore the WristStrong bracelet in space after Colbert's injury on the set of the show.
While we were all waxing nostalgic about the end of the shuttle program, Garrett and the SpaceX team were assuring us that it was just the beginning. Seeing their capsule and listening to their words really made me hopeful as a space geek and as the mom of an engineering student who has always dreamed of going into space. I was able to ask Garrett about the possibility of Sarah fulfilling her dream, of the possibility of my students fulfilling their dreams, and the said they absolutely could. I left feeling not only relieved but patriotic in a way. The NASA legacy will continue thanks to private companies. Where else in the world could this happen? Later in the week, I was in the Saturn V building and saw the lunar landing module in the photo above. This was the height of technology during my childhood. The shuttle was the height of technology of my children's childhood. Neither can be or should be an ending, but are the shoulders upon which the future of exploration will stand.
In recent days, we heard that SpaceX broke ground on their new launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This will allow them to launch their Falcon Heavy which is a rocket capable of carrying twice the cargo of the shuttle.
For kids who dream of space travel...the dream is still alive. Remember that it is COOL to go into space. To get the opportunity takes hard work; you need to study and take the harder classes. The most important message I heard this week?