For Kids

Ready for Launch?

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If you like watching shuttles rocket their way into space, then we hope you caught the launch of the SpaceX Dragon Endeavor. What a cool name for a spaceship, huh? The Dragon Endeavor took Crew-6, a crew of four astronauts from America and two other countries, into orbit to dock with the International Space Station. It’s just another day on the job for NASA and SpaceX! 

SpaceX is the brainchild of Tesla owner, Elon Musk. Together with the United States’ NASA, they have partnered to ensure success and continuous innovation. This is the 10th crewed flight for SpaceX and the fourth flight for the ship Dragon Endeavor.   

What does it mean to dock with the International Space Station? 

Guiding a 200,000-pound rocket into a parking spot at the International Space Station (ISS) is a job for someone who knows their stuff. Crew-6 (and any astronaut) will train for hours on end to make sure they have the movements down to a “T.” In fact, they use training simulators that might look a lot like your own video games you play at home. An astronaut’s accuracy must be precise with no room for error. It’s like the biggest undertaking of parallel parking you will ever encounter!  

After they park and pay the meter (just kidding!) the crew will be greeted by astronauts and cosmonauts who are already living on the space station. Working on the ISS means astronauts are busy running and managing experiments, keeping the station clean and functional, and taking care of other everyday tasks that are harder in space, such as eating, exercising or using the bathroom. 

SpaceX is delivering their crew for a six-month stay on the ISS. What would you do if you had a six- month space vacation? 

How does a shuttle get all the way out into space? 

Getting the SpaceX Dragon Endeavor to the ISS is no small task either. It uses hypergolic fuel in its boosters to create that powerful speed that can get astronauts both out of the atmosphere and then back home again. The problem? Even though they have great performance in space travel, hypergolic fuels are incredibly toxic and bad for the environment. In last year’s SpaceX mission, astronauts returning to Earth had to wait in their capsule before stepping outside of it to be sure the toxins were burned away.  

But innovative minds are setting their sights on something with a much cleaner burn and less toxic residue. In fact, the mechanical engineering school at Purdue University (our home-state college that has turned out many astronauts including Neil Armstrong himself!) is using a new approach that just might be the key. This comes in the form of ammonia borane, and one tiny tablet can cause a BIG reaction.  

You want to see more for yourself? Head to the Purdue University website to see a video about the green light emitted both during hyperbolic and ammonia borane explosions! If you like big reactions, then this is right up your alley! 

We are all in this together! 

From outer space to our entire planet to right here in our own state, people everywhere are curious about what is next for space exploration. With the latest SpaceX launch and more on the way, commercial space flight will probably happen in your lifetime! Would you get on a shuttle and rocket out into the universe? Where would you go first?