Once again cargo leads the way in aviation pioneering, as
humans have entered SpaceX's Crew Dragon in outer space, just hours after
the commercial spacecraft docked at the International Space Station (ISS)
on Sunday morning. This was the first time for Crew Dragon in space.
The new space vehicle, carrying 400 pounds of cargo was launched
Saturday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It was Crew Dragon’s first test flight and the first
launch of NASA’s commercial crew program — a public-private
partnership in which the agency awarded SpaceX and Boeing Co. a combined
$6.8 billion in contracts to build separate spacecraft that will take
NASA astronauts to the space station.
On Sunday, the ISS crew watched as Crew Dragon became the
first American commercial space vehicle designed to carry humans. dock
at the station, according to NASA.
Then ISS astronauts David Saint-Jacques and Oleg Artemyev
swung open the hatch and entered the capsule at 7:07 a.m.
The successful maneuver was greeted with cheers from the Hawthorne,
California’s headquarters of Elon Musk's ambitious space company.
"Congratulations to all nations, private space firms
and individuals who wake up every day driven by the magic of exploration,"
American astronaut Anne McClain, the third crew member on the ISS, said
at a welcoming ceremony broadcast over NASA TV.
"This day belongs to all of us."
Crew Dragon will remain at the space station for a few days
before undocking and splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean early Friday
morning, where a recovery ship will be nearby to pick it up.
Boeing is set to launch its first uncrewed test mission in
April, with a crewed mission no earlier than August. SpaceX’s crewed
test flight is set for no earlier than July.
This movement back into space is quite reminiscent of the
early pioneering days of commercial aviation, when governments supplied
the money and entrepreneurial people developed an industry.
Make no mistake, the movement into space right now in terms
of development is about where the Wright Brothers were in powered flight
116 years ago.
By any measure we are in for high adventure and exciting advances
ahead that will change time and space.
And air cargo first in our hearts, is leading the way.