Human Ashes, Pay Pal and Space Travel

Private company Space X successfully launched its unmanned Falcon 9 rocket into space early Tuesday morning from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Worldcrunch provided some fun facts we should know about this historic event.


1. SpaceX is the first private company to successfully launch a vessel to the International Space Station (ISS). Only governments had previously been able to achieve such a feat, but the White House welcomed Falcon 9's launch as an opportunity for government-run NASA. John P. Holdren, Assistant to President Barack Obama for Science and Technology said in a statement this will help free up more of NASA's resources to take on other technological challenges in space. 

2. This wasn't the first attempt to launch a private vessel into space. SpaceX had already successfully launched and retrived a spacecraft in orbit in December 2010. Falcon 9's take-off was delayed three times since February, and had to be cancelled at the last minute last Saturday because of a faulty engine valve. The video below shows today's launch.

3. SpaceX was created by the co-founder of PayPal. Elon Musk is a South African-born 40-year-old multi-millionaire who co-founded PayPal in 2000 and founded SpaceX in 2002. 

4. Falcon 9 is unmaned and carries a capsule called Dragon. Dragon contains 1,000 pounds of provisions for the ISS and was released into orbit nine minutes into the rocket's flight. The capsule is expected to dock with the ISS on Thursday. Dragon's sensors and flight systems are subjected to tests that will determine if the vehicle is ready to dock on the space station.

5. Falcon 9 contains the ashes of 306 deceased people. Space services company Celestis sends ashes of deceased family members into orbit, for a fee. Prices run from $1000 (suborbital flight) to $13,000 (deep space). The ashes of "Star Trek" actor James Doohan, aka "Scotty," astronaut Gordon Cooper and skydiver Brady Watson Kane were among the celebrity remains launched this morning. 

Check out Elon Musk's interview with Big Think:

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