Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reason #199: Firsts

As I've spoken about before, one of the positive things about NASA losing a lot of its budget in recent years is that there's already a certain amount of infrastructure--for example, the International Space Station--that needs to be dealt with. So in place of a shuttle program, NASA is now relying on other countries (boo) and increasingly, private businesses (yay) to handle much of the day-to-day ferrying of junk into and out of space.

After a successful flyby earlier today, SpaceX's unmanned Dragon capsule will tomorrow become the first commercial spacecraft to dock with the ISS, where it will be dropping off water, clothing, and other supplies, then returning to Earth with extraneous equipment.

As much as it would be nice to think that NASA could afford its own supply runs, this kind of thing is a great way to hasten commercial spaceflight in general, which means space tourism won't be far behind. And whatever money NASA does manage to tear from the Pentagon's clenched fists can be devoted that much more to research and development, which means more telescopes and rovers and Mars colonies...someday.

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