Dragon Breathes Fire

The new era of spaceflight has officially begun. SpaceX have launched its Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon capsule to drop supplies off at the International Space Station. It launched, got berthed (note not docked…yet) to the space station and has returned. Remember, this is a private company. This is the future.

One of the unique things with Dragon is that it’s the only vehicle capable of bringing things back from the space station, such as science experiments. Scientists are now able to launch tests, leave them to work on the ISS for a few months and then have them come back for detailed analysis. Brilliant!

It’s all at a significantly cheaper cost too, plus they’re going to be shipping astronauts to and fro as well. Double brilliant! And then there’s the Falcon 9 Heavy, capable of lofting gargantuan satellites into space, again at significantly cheaper prices.

And the best thing of all? This is only the beginning!

Here are some great photos from launch, berthing and landing.

Falcon 9 launches to the ISS with Dragon. Credit: SpaceX

The ISS robotic arm grapples Dragon for berthing. Credit: NASA

Dragon being unberthed. Credit: NASA

Dragon safely back on Earth. Credit: SpaceX

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Science off the Sphere

My favourite astronaut is back in space. That’s right, the legendary Don Pettit (@astro_Pettit) is up on the International Space Station on Expedition 30. He previously was one of the engineers on Expedition 6 in 2002/03.

Don Pettit is a pretty incredible guy, he has so much enthusiasm for science, more than Brian Cox! It’s what he does in his spare time on the station though that’s most impressive. As can be seen in videos, he’s constantly pondering experiments and things to test in the zero-g of space. In the short amount of time off the astronauts have he films videos showing and explaining amazing scientific phenomena. Back on Expedition 6 he did ‘Science Friday’s‘, and now on Expedition 30 he’s doing ‘Science off the Sphere‘.

It’s truly is amazing the things we’re missing out on down here. In his first video of this expedition he demonstrates some interesting facts about knittin’ needles and water. And what’s best, he gets you involved too. He leaves a question to be answered at the end and you get to contact him with your answer.

Not many astronauts have done anything similar to Don, which is a shame, because it’s really important. It gets not only interesting facts across but gets younger people interested in science, gets them asking themselves questions and so on. This is something that should be continually encouraged.

I’ll leave you with two of his latest videos. First, the knittin’ needle experiment (watch it just to hear how he says knittin’ needle, it’s amazing!) and then his latest video on how astronauts can drink from cups (something previously not possible, it had to all be done through straws). Enjoy.