Just a few weeks ago, the SpaceX Dragon successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS). This marked the first time any commercial space vessel has docked with the ISS or indeed any other space vessel. Five days later the Dragon splashed down in the Pacific ocean ending its mission triumphantly.
This week we saw another major milestone when the Chinese Shenzou-9 space ship docked with the Tiangong-1 space lab. This marks the first manned docking of a Chinese space ship, again a major historical event in the story of manned space travel.
The mythological connection is fairly obvious with the SpaceX vessel’s name; less so with the Shenzou whose name translates roughly as “Divine Vessel”. While the names may refer to myth and magic, the technology behind them is one hundred percent factual: this literally is “Rocket Science”.
It’s interesting that for thousands of years our ancestors filled the night skies with mythological creatures, ideas we still use in the names of constellations and in star names. Now we are doing the same, but in this case the “myths” are real.
For the first time in our history we now have truly commercial spaceflight in our grasp. Here is a list of some of these:
- Reaction Engines
- Scaled Composites
At the same time the number of nations with space flight capability is at the highest ever, including:
- United States
- Europe (ESA)
We seem to be at the very threshold of opening up space, at least at an orbital level, to potentially anyone who can afford the price of a ticket. It seems almost inevitable that once the costs come down , industry will follow to make use of the special conditions accessible only in orbit. Once that occurs, residences and communities will surely follow.
I can’t wait!