We were totally watching Star Wars, but it wasn’t a movie. I mean, it felt that way. The images were so crisp. So crisp they almost didn’t look real. And, not to sound like a dingbat, but they almost looked a little R2-D2-ish.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 had already blasted the Crew Dragon capsule into space, and returned itself to Earth, a process that will never, ever get old. Really, watching that rocket lower itself onto a drone ship is, as I’ve said before, like watching real life Iron Man in action.
If you haven’t seen this yet, YouTube it. So your own mind can be blown. Also, if you haven’t seen this photo, taken by NASA astronaut Anne McClain (who goes by @AstroAnimal on Twitter, which is amazing), it’s time you did. She took it of the Crew Dragon from inside the International Space Station. Man.
I’ve taken some great photos in my life – but never of the EARTH’S HORIZON FROM SPACE WITH A SWEET NEW ASTRONAUT VEHICLE IN IT. Lordy.
So back to non-Star Wars. There we were waiting for the capsule to dock with the International Space Station, and I wondered out loud why it looked like it was sitting perfectly still. Like, how did it travel into space and then suddenly stop?
And before I could get my (correct) answer out of my head, the SpaceX commentator chimed in.
“It looks like it’s sitting still,” he said. “But, it’s actually traveling at 17,000 miles per hour.”
Or something like that. He said something somewhere absurdly close to that. It only looked stationary because it was against the backdrop of SPACE – utter darkness. And, it was going as fast as the ISS, which was waiting to give it a ride.
And then, to close the gap and achieve a “hard dock,” – I now have super, space vocabulary, too, btw – the terrifically smart ladies and gents on the ground told the capsule IN SPACE – REMOTELY – to fire its boosters. A little. Just enough to scooch it closer to the ISS.
And I couldn’t help but marvel at how friggin’ cool that is. The time and brains and patience and mistakes and planning and coffee it took to build that thing, and the rockets that carry it, and to have it a few booster puffs away from docking in space. It was such a moment.
I also, though, couldn’t help but think how nice it would be if I could just get a signal on my phone inside the grocery store. I mean, if they can shoot folks into space and still talk to them, and put a Tesla in orbit, and tell this Crew Dragon to scoot a little closer with a tiny booster puff – by remote – you’d think I could get a signal long enough in the produce section to tell the 14th solicitor who called that day that I really didn’t want a free cruise.
You’d think. I might be asking for too much, though. I mean these smart folks are busy making space history, while I’m just trying to multi-task.