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Developing Story SpaceX Test Fires SuperDraco

Discussion in 'General Business & Finance Discussions' started by Robert Heiny, Feb 4, 2012.

  1. Robert Heiny

    Robert Heiny Research Scientist of Learning and Education Flight Instructor

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    Hawthorne, CA February 1, 2012 – Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) has successfully test fired SuperDraco, a powerful new engine that will play a critical role in the company’s efforts to change the future of human spaceflight.

    The company is putting the finishing touches on its first private spaceship Dragon to visit the International Space Station.

    The launch date is to be announced, but will likely occur in late March or April, 2012. The gumdrop-shaped capsule is called Dragon and the company has taken a stylized depiction of the mythical beast as a logo.

    I remember the first time I heard a test fire of an engine by Aerojet for the first U.S. spacecraft. It was my first year of teaching in a classroom. The school was miles down hill from the test in Southern California. All the windows in the classroom were open.

    We had recently had a duck-and-cover practice in the school. It was during the Cold War and those students had heard stories from family members of WW II bombing raids in Europe and Asia. I remembered the night time black-outs in the San Francisco Bay Area in response to various WW II air threats.

    The test at Aerojet was a fantastic foreign sound that stopped me in my tracks. I'd worked for United Air Lines (that's the correct spelling for that day), so had heard and worked around the early commercial jet engines. But, this sustained blast was more intense and with a different sound frequency range.

    Almost instantly, the class roared with laughter. Students recognized the sound. I must have had an odd expression on my face.

    I remember looking around the room to get a clue to know what to do. So, they told me that it was just another test firing of an engine at Aerojet for a spacecraft.

    I had just weeks earlier heard about a "secret" spacecraft under development from an engineer working on it. The Aerojet test firing of that engine made the secret seem more plausable.

    Soon the Aerojet engine test, I heard the news about Sputnik. I took all 36 students in the class to the school office to watch on TV the first U.S. manned space flight. Yes, we watched the only TV in the school. It was a big 12 inch black and white cathode ray tube set. We were lucky to have it there.

    This brings me back to SpaceX, Dragon, and the test firing of Super Draco. I wonder what neighbors thought when they heard the blast, and if local elementary school students again told the uninitiated what was happening?

    Or, maybe such tests don't excite anyone other than me these days?

    In any case, kudos and best wishes to the SpaceX family for a successful test and an upcoming launch.

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