All Things Connected
I have had a love affair with the Columbia Space Shuttle and the whole NASA space program, but I was beyond pissed todayâ€”the day after the extraordinary launch of Crew Dragon, the United Statesâ€™ first human-carrying spacecraft designed by a private companyâ€”because I was unable to find any video or broadcast updates on its successful docking with the International Space Station, delivering two American astronauts safe and sound.
This historic launch is a grand, paradigm shift into a â€śwhole new world of economic activity in space, with private organizations doing what once required an entire nation to do, creating new opportunities for experimentation and discovery,â€ť according to Tim Fernholz, writing for Quartz (qz.com), but,the magnitude of this great achievement was overshadowed as the nation erupted in angry violent reactions to the George Lloyd murder in Minneapolis.
I am sad for the children who did not get to experience the collective, inspirational thrill of exploration, discovery and daring my own children so vividly experienced with the beautiful maiden flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia, especially after our long months of quarantine which have taken a toll on everyoneâ€™s spirits. This was a monumental leap forward into the future! A whole new era of space travel! Possibilities abound! Letâ€™s celebrate now!!
A Little History
The Dragon space capsule is a re-usable, cargo carrying space craft designed and built by SpaceX, Elon Muskâ€™s private space transportation company. The original, un-manned Dragon has had many successful missions delivering supplies to and from the International Space Station. The Dragon spacecraft, designed to survive re-entry, not only delivers cargo, but is able to return to Earth carrying cargo back. It carries pressurized and unpressurized payloads, live (like lab mice) or inanimate cargo.
Boosted into space by SpaceXâ€™s mighty Falcon rocket, the Crew Dragonâ€™s historic manned flight can also claim the recovery of the first private spacecraft booster that has ever delivered human astronauts to space. According to SpaceX, the Falcon 9 is the â€śworldâ€™s first orbital-class reusable rocket,â€ť a feature the company says will help to cut down the cost of space access. The rocket stands at a mighty 230 feet tall and carries a mass of a whopping 1.2 million pounds. Talk about recyclingâ€”Holy Moly!
Inside the Capsule
The Crew Dragon capsule has a high-tech, black-and-white, clean, sleek, minimalist design. It is roomy and uncluttered. It is 27 feet tall and 13 feet wide. There are carbon fiber and Alcantara cloth cushioned seats tilted up toward a touch screen, which replaces all the buttons, switches and knobs from the Apollo/Shuttle days. Touch-screen technology provides real time data for the astronauts from where the craft is in space to information about the environment inside the capsule. Crew members can monitor the interior environment with an Environmental Control and Life Support System, and they can set the onboard temperature between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. There are four windows for the astronautsâ€¦that feature goes back to the Apollo days when the early astronauts successfully fought for a view. The capsule can carry seven passengers.