Enter the Dragon

It’s been a long road since 2004, when Space Ship One made its second, prize-winning voyage. Today, astronauts from the International Space Station got to tour the world’s first successful private spacecraft, the Dragon. It’s the first time a non-government vessel has docked with the ISS, and it brought lots of non-essential supplies. Why non-essential? Because nobody was 100% sure the craft would make it.

Dragon also brought James Doohan’s ashes.

This excerpt from the AP confused me, however:

The space station has been relying on Russian, Japanese and European cargo ships for supplies ever since the shuttles retired. None of those, however, can bring anything of value back; they’re simply loaded with trash and burn up in the atmosphere.

By contrast, the Dragon is designed to safely re-enter the atmosphere, parachuting into the ocean like the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules did back in the 1960s. Assuming all goes well Friday, the space station’s six-man crew will release the Dragon next Thursday after filling it with science experiments and equipment.

What? How are we getting astronauts and cosmonauts down¬†from the ISS then? Surely that’s not a one-way trip!

It’s tempting to talk about how this is a great example of private industry doing a job that government used to do. However, Dragon did take off from Cape Canaveral, a big federal government run “space station” as opposed to the (unfinished, mostly state taxpayer funded) Spaceport America in New Mexico.

There are private airports; will there ever be private spaceports?

In Closing:¬†Income inequality in the Roman Empire; 50 years of fire; death by foreclosure (I still don’t know how this could possibly happen — nobody trashed out or did inspections??); and have a great, safe Memorial Day Weekend.