History will be made this week as the first commercial spacecraft, the SpaceX Dragon, docks with and delivers supplies and a thousand pounds of science experiments to the International Space Station.
This is the beginning of a new era in U.S. Space flight. The NASA space shuttle fleet was decommissioned as of July 21, 2011. Over it’s 30 years in operation, the fleet of five shuttles “flew 542 million miles, circled Earth 21,152 times, carried 355 people from 16 countries and spent a combined 1,333 days in space – nearly four years” (Dunn, 2011, p. 1A).
The Dragon launched last Sunday, October 7 and this will the first supply mission by the U.S. since Space Shuttle Atlantis made the trip in July 2011.
Dunn, Marcia. (July 22, 2011). NASA’S space shuttle program – 1981-2011; Final flight; Atlantis’ smooth landing marks end of shuttle program. Charleston Gazette. Retrieved from Lexis-Nexis Academic 8 Oct. 2012.