Yes, I’m done with all those silly jokes about dragons flying over mountains! Today I’m following up on a previous blog subject, the spacecraft dubbed Dragon. The Dragon program was much celebrated in 2012 when it successfully carried its load of cargo to the International Space Station and returned to Earth with another load. Previous to that time, only governments had been able to boast of this accomplishment.
Time has marched on, and the Dragon fleet has faithfully carried out their role as reusable spacecraft. But SpaceX continues pushing the bounds of this equipment’s capabilities. One of their main goals is to make all parts of the spacecraft reusable. Previously, items such as rockets and fuel stages were used only once and either left in orbit or intended to destroy themselves in Earth’s atmosphere.
Through the first part of 2015, SpaceX has carried out several experiments with methods to reclaim their equipment after launch. A typical mission splashes down at sea and then ships have to retrieve it. SpaceX has been trying to get their rockets to return to a pre-determined location — an unmanned barge. The first attempt, in January, came very close but resulted in a spectacular crash and explosion. A couple of efforts since have also failed. Locating the barge seems to be easy enough. Sticking the landing is something else.
What makes this process remarkable is how the effort continues even in the face of failure. Like a true dragon, SpaceX has a goal and won’t let go of it. In time, I know they’ll succeed.
Hey, wait — I’ve got one more!
Q: Why did Dragon fly over the mountain?
A: To get to the International Space Station, of course.