US Company Launches First Private Spaceship

June 24, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article

1. unmanned (adj.) 
[uhn-mand] – not controlled by a person
Example: The unmanned car was operated via remote control.

2. commercialized (adj.) [kuh-mur-shuh-lahyz] – to make something available to the public
Example: NASA hopes that space travel will become commercialized.

3. pivotal (adj.) [piv-uh-tl] –very important 
Example:  The first landing of astronauts on the moon was a pivotal event in the history of space travel.

4. miscellaneous (adj.) [mis-uh-ley-nee-uhs] – a group of things that have different characteristics
Example:  There were miscellaneous items placed inside the airplane’s cargo.

5. maiden voyage (n. phrase) [meyd-n voi-ij] – the first trip of a boat, ship, or aircraft
Example: A lot of people gathered to witness the ship’s maiden voyage.

Article(10 minutes)
Read the text below.
Carrying over 1000 lbs. (pounds) of supplies, the unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The rocket reached the International Space Station, and became the first privately owned rocket to successfully deliver goods to astronauts in space.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, expressed his excitement at the scientific experiment. He compared the importance of the launch to the rapid development of commercialized Internet. He believes that Falcon 9’s mission is a pivotal moment that will make faster advances to space travel technology.

The Falcon 9 measures 180 feet and 12 feet in diameter. The spaceship was carrying the cargo capsule “Dragon,” which is capable of carrying over 13,000 lbs. of supplies. For the mission, the goods in the cargo included miscellaneous supplies such as food, clothes, materials for science experiments, and computer equipment.

The Dragon capsule remained on the station for two weeks before coming back to Earth with scientific research and used devices.

The maiden voyage of Falcon 9 is an important achievement for NASA and the US, because American astronauts currently depend on the Russian space agency to take them to space. For the US to transport astronauts and cargo to space without such help, NASA has been paying SpaceX and other private companies to develop the US’ own space taxi system.

SpaceX spokesperson Kirstin Grantham revealed the launching of Falcon 9 is part of the $396 million deal NASA made with the company. So far, SpaceX has finished 37 of the 40 missions and has earned $381 million.

Viewpoint Discussion(7-8 minutes)
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why do you think that a lot of people are interested in space?
·         Do you think spending money to study space is important? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What problems do you think people will encounter if space travel is commercialized?
Do you believe commercialized space flight will be popular in the near future? Why or why not?

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June 24, 2012