Friday, May 25, 2012

"A Dragon By The Tail"

Expedition 31 crew members aboard the International Space Staton captured this video of the approach, grapple and berthing of the SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module. Video source: NASA.

"Looks like we've got us a dragon by the tail."

Those were the words spoken by U.S. astronaut Don Pettit as he grappled the SpaceX Dragon capsule to berth with the International Space Station.

They might be this generation's equivalent of Neil Armstrong's famous quote when he first stepped on the Moon. "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

Homer Hickam, former Space Shuttle engineer, echoed that sentiment in a Twitter message:

@elonmusk @SpaceX That's one small step for a ‪#dragon‬, one giant leap for dragonkind!

And once again, NASA was the top story this week for many mainstream media.

For me personally ... I've spent the last year telling people why the Space Shuttle was retired, and how the United States would soon have an entirely new spacecraft fleet designed and mostly funded by the private sector. That day arrived today. Instead of having tell people it will be here one day soon ... it's here now. The dream is alive.

And here's a thought ... An American astronaut, aided by a Dutch astronaut, used a Canadian robot arm to grapple and berth to an International Space Station a spacecraft built by a South African emigrant to the United States. Such a uniquely American story, and an example of what the future of human spaceflight should be about. It's not one nation going to space. It's one species.

Below are links I've found to stories. More will be added as circumstances permit.

ABC News "SpaceX Dragon Docks With Space Station; Success for Private Enterprise in Orbit"

CBS News "SpaceX Docks with International Space Station: Up Next, Public Travel?"

CNN "Private Spacecraft Connects to Space Station" "SpaceX's Dragon Craft Makes Historic Hookup with Space Station"

PBS Newshour "International Space Station Catches 'Dragon by the Tail'"

Aviation Week "Dragon Capsule Berths To ISS To Set Space Milestone"

Florida Today "SpaceX Makes History as Dragon Capsule Becomes Part of ISS"

Los Angeles Times "SpaceX Completes Historic Docking with the Space Station"

The New York Times "SpaceX Capsule Docks at Space Station"

Space News "SpaceX's Successful Mission Boosts Commercial Credibility"

Washington Post "Private Dragon Capsule Makes History with Space Station Docking: ‘First of Many to Come’"

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