Later today the Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station in Earth orbit. This will mark the beginning of a new era of low Earth orbit traffic as commercial vehicles begin to resupply the ISS instead of NASA shuttles built in the 1980s. Watching video of the Dragon launch on May 22nd stired up within me some primal reaction to space exploration. Something that the shuttle era didn’t because it had become old news, routine (even when it went horribly wrong a few times). This feels different, new and invigorating.
For the first time we are seeing spacecraft owned by a private company launched from Earth to dock with the ISS. The potential for the Dragon platform is huge. It can carry both cargo and people into low Earth Orbit. The promise of future commercial applications in Space is breathtaking. We can’t be that far off now from “space tourism” which I doubt I will ever get to personally experience but the fact that some every day people might is exciting.
The potential also exists for government funded space operations like NASA to stop spending so much time on logistics of getting supplies to the space station and start working on more exploration initiatives and technology advancing endeavors in space. Exploration has always been a driving force for civilization and the place to explore is obviously “out there” We are past due to kick that up a notch, to get moving again after a very long period of stagnancy of our exploration efforts.