While the World Waits for Houston Mission Control Go
UPDATE: DRAGON MADE IT'S LAUNCH SAFELY ON SATURDAY AT 2:22 and ASTRONAUTS DOUG AND BOB HAVE NOW MADE IT SAFELY TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE CENTER. AMERICA WE MADE IT!
As we wait to hear whether Space X's Demo-2 Mission and the Falcon 9 rocket will get the "go" from Houston Mission Control later this afternoon, Central Time at 3:33 pm, or if the weather will delay Falcon 9's launch until the weekend, this gives us a chance to reflect on how a successful launch, today, or even in the days ahead, will change the course of space travel history.
My grandparents' generation recalled the earliest stages of space exploration in the race against Russia when NASA launched Jupiter C and it's payload the Explorer 1 satellite into space in 1958.
My parents' generation were enamored by the landing of Apollo 11 in 1969, glued to the television as young adults themselves when they heard Neil Armstrong utter the famous words " One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," for the very first time.
Sadly, my generation's greatest memory of space exploration was likely watching in awe and then despair as the NASA Challenger shuttle broke apart almost a minute after launch. We too were glued to television, this time in school, alongside our teachers, who quietly cried as one of their own died in the disaster.
Then seventeen years later, in 2003, Columbia explodes upon a routine reentry into the earth's atmosphere.
This is when many of us tuned out, becoming content to live out our space exploration fantasies from the safety of the movie theatre. Were you not as quietly surprised when in the middle of adulting you realized that in the last 50 years we hadn't gone near as far in space travel and exploration as we once dreamed we would as children? Thankfully, NASA and private innovators like the eccentric and often controversial Elon Musk kept the dream alive. Musk and his team launch Falcon Heavy and Starman into space in 2018 making the Tesla Roadster the newest vehicle in space " Made on Earth by Humans" reads the circuit board, setting the stage for the year 2020.
Falcon-9's mission, to drop supplies at the Space Station and launch a satellite, will mark the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011 that humans will fly to the space station from U.S. soil. My children will have their turn to watch history, this time glued to their devices, as they wait in hopes of success for their generation of space flight, within the private sector. A successful launch creates a renewed awakening, the dream that for the average human, traveling to space could become commonplace, daring to consider maybe it's even around the corner, if not for our children, then perhaps for theirs.
Today will change the course of space travel history.
Now to keep NASA astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken sound while getting the Crew Dragon spacecraft safely into orbit.
You can watch it live on the NASA youtube page NASA.