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A commercial rocket now heading for the International Space Station.
SpaceX is falcon 9 lifted off this morning is loaded with 1000.
Pounds of supplies for the ISS.
This morning's blast off launches a new era in space flight because it marks the very first time a private company has sent a vessel to the space station.
The big test -- comes later this week when the dragon space capsule is set to dock with the IS -- Joining us now to talk about the history being made here Tom Jones a former NASA shuttle astronaut and a Fox News contributor.
So what's the significance of this you've been an advocate of this kind of program.
In the past right.
Following shuttle retirement NASA needs a way to get about forty metric tons of supplies up to the space station over the next five years to support research and give the -- supplies.
There's -- way to get it up there from our side except by hiring Russian cargo freighters.
-- Japanese and European cargo ships can't do the -- so we need to come up with a solution.
And this is a very important in a spectacular first up this morning.
So is is it possible that that private enterprise is going to be able to do what the government used to do through NASA except maybe more efficiently maybe even cheaper faster smarter.
-- at NASA sure hopes that that's right because they need to save money on the cargo shipments over what the shuttle could certainly deliver.
And that will allow them to free up funds for actual research on the space station and of course.
Building deep space craft like your Ryan and the big rocket that will carry it out beyond the space station so they really can't get.
Going on those projects until they deliver these cost savings it's a very important element of NASA's future strategy you know I'm old enough to remember the Mercury program and Gemini and Apollo and it was always such a nationalistic sense of pride that came whenever those big Saturn fives and other rockets would.
Would launch it it it seems a little strange to be handing it all over -- private enterprise but.
I guess I'm kind of stuck in the past time.
I don't think you're stuck in the past I mean it that the -- this morning actually looked a lot like the old Saturn launches of the shuttle because that is the kerosene fuel that was burned this morning.
But we need to have this first step take place and then I think NASA very.
Very intently wants to get out to deep space with the -- that's not gonna happen for another five years.
And crew won't -- that on that until the latter part of -- -- so.
-- got to keep going on the space station support and research until they can get the deep space ships going in this is a fundamental part of that.
And what it allows is private industry to get access to space to develop their own space stations to innovate to make money and space in a way that -- not chartered to do.
-- interesting that a private American company can do what the nation of North Korea for instance has not been able to do get a get a rocket into earth orbit they -- the challenge though is still to come when you get this ship close to the space station tell us about that.
Right -- -- is one of the trickiest maneuvers in space to bring together two spacecraft going five miles a second.
Miles an hour and have them fly formation and we -- -- on the shuttle with human pilots backed up by computers and sensors and and mission control.
Here SpaceX and its dragon capsule has to.
Automate that process with laser sensors are radio sensors GPS.
And then feeding into navigation software that can stabilize the craft with thrusters.
Very close to the space station but not presenting safety hazard so it's a big test they'll try it out once on Thursday and then Friday.
It's taken stabilize within about thirty or forty feet and its crew can reach out and grab -- with the robot arm.
And this is really where the rubber meets the road that -- SpaceX company has to prove.
Well you know -- the Meyer wanted to grow up to -- astronaut to get kids of this Eric and grow up to the start of space exploration company of their own.
One possibility being a private space plane pilot that's right -- he can -- John Jones always good productive thing.
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