Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Two signs we're living in the 21st century: SpaceX and Stardust

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

22-11-2010 16:18 CST

Topics: private spaceflight, Stardust, mission status

Two brief but significant news items today made me stop and think about how far we've come in space travel.

First of all, there was a NASA press release about the Federal Aviation Administration granting a license. Just a bureaucratic thing, on the face of it. But this bureaucratic matter is the "first-ever commercial license to reenter a spacecraft from Earth orbit," granted to SpaceX in advance of its plans to test the launch, and return, of the Dragon capsule, currently planned for December 7. I'll be staying tuned to SpaceFlight Now's Falcon 9 mission status center for progress on that. (I looked on SpaceX' website for their own release about this, but I didn't see one.)

Second, there was a JPL press release announcing the success of a nine-second engine burn on Stardust, which is on course to rendezvous with comet Tempel 1 on February 14, 2011. This is a spacecraft whose prime mission is long over; it gathered some of a comet's tail and successfully returned it to Earth nearly five years ago now. But Stardust, like so many of our robotic spacecraft, is so robust that it can be sent onward to a second mission, many years after its primary one is over; we're actually going back to a comet where we have unfinished business, the first return trip to one of the solar system's small bodies.




See other posts from November 2010


Or read more blog entries about: private spaceflight, Stardust, mission status


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search


Advocate for Space!

Fifteen years ago, Society members and passionate space advocates like you helped save the Pluto mission. Now we can do the same for missions to Europa and Mars.

Join over 27,600 people who have completed their petition and consider a donation to support advocacy efforts.

Sign Our Petition

Featured Images

Pluto's blue skies
51 Eridani b
51 Eridani b (artist's conception)
Comparison of Kaguya Terrain Camera and Apollo 17 images
More Images

Featured Video

A Perfect, Clear Day: LightSail's Launch

Watch Now

Fly to an Asteroid!

Send your name and message on Hayabusa-2.

Send your name

Selfies to Space!

Take flight with a selfie on LightSail™ in 2016!

Send a Selfie Now

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!