On October 7, 2012, I was lucky enough to witness the live launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon lab perched atop. The rocket was bound for the International Space Station, to deliver 1,000 pounds worth of cargo, science experiments, and ice cream, to the astronauts in orbit. This marks the first time in US history that a commercial vehicle, hailing from US soil, is making such a trip. And it fulfilled one of my childhood dreams. Ever since I was a small child and saw my first Star Wars movie, I wanted to go into space. Witnessing this launch was an amazing experience. I was moved to tears as I watched that rocket climb into the sky, knowing that the future of human space flight and exploration had completely changed at 8:35 PM that Sunday. I felt a sense of pride in my country and in my fellow man. Once again, the possibilities of life on this planet and beyond are endless. Dreams of travel to distant planets have been reignited. And not only did I have the privilege to witness such a spectacular event, I was able to be part of a small group of social media contacts. I met some fantastic people I would have never met otherwise, and we all expanded our social horizons, which is what social media is all about.
In addition to this flight being the first commercial cargo resupply in American history, this also marks the first time refrigerated units are able to be sent back to space, since the decommissioning of the shuttle program. And when the Dragon is sent home, she’ll have those same refrigeration units to bring back experiments that need to stay cool. But almost as important as science is the fact that we were able to send real ice cream to the men and women orbiting the planet. SpaceX and NASAs ice cream of choice? Blue Bell Vanilla with Chocolate Swirl apparently.
While Jen was live-tweeting the whole time, she heard some amazing quotes and interesting facts.
From NASA administrator Charlie Bolden
“Our space technology program is developing technology we need for tomorrow’s missions.”
“We are once again launching space craft out of US space ports to our astronauts.”
“The plan is to get humans into the Martian atmosphere between 2030 and 2039.”
“This is an incredible “in” for the way of commercial space crews.”
“We have to find innovative ways to do better, the things we have done in the past.”
“What we have done, with the President’s leadership, is put our faith in American industry.”
From SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell
“Tomorrow’s SpaceX launch begins a new era in commercial space flight.”
“We’re making steady progress in making the next generation of deep-space travel.”
“We’re a launch company. I’m excited every time we get to do a launch.”
“We hope to be part of the partnership [with NASA] to go to Mars.”
From Lori Garver, NASA’s Deputy Administrator
“We want to be able to reduce operational costs so we can focus on the science.”
“To me, I really like the quiet of the touchdown and the completion of the mission.”
From Sam Scimemi, director of the International Space Station
“Our goal is to have US capability to fly a crew by 2017.”
And our favorite fun facts
“Falcon is named for the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars movie.”
“The more fish you eat in space, the less bone density you lose.”
Jen took lots of pictures. You can find them here, under our Photos page. Here are a few of our favorites:
Here’s our footage of the the Falcon 9 rocket rising in preparation for the launch:
And here’s our footage of the actual launch:
Jen is also putting together some more video, so that’ll be available soon!