SpaceX’s Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral this morning, bearing unmanned mockup of the Dragon Capsule intended to ferry cargo and personnel to the International Space Station, successfully separated from the Falcon launch rocket.
The NASA site is vague on details as of this writing, but CNN has the locker-room talk.
The Dragon differs from SpaceShip One, the first commercial space vehicle everyone got so worked up about a few years back. SpaceShip one looked ultra-cool, and was was built on an innovative model that essentially grew from the Space Shuttle. It brought plenty innovation, but it was basically a spaceplane like the Shuttle.
The Dragon, on the other hand, is retro-fabulous. It’s a capsule model — more like the orbital and re-entry craft the Mercury and Gemini astronauts rode in.
The big dif is, of course, that the Dragon is designed to be reusable, which is important if SpaceX wants to deliver crew and cargo to the ISS on a budget. The innovation nowadays is not on a strict cool-design model; pushing the envelope on thrifty economics is the most critical innovation necessary now, as NASA moves into its next era. (READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON TECHYUM)