This morning Space X launched the first full version of their Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The company’s rocket underwent a successful test launch back in July, and this launch successfully put their Dragon capsule into orbit. The capsule orbited earth for about 3 1/2 hours, then re-entered the atmosphere and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, where it will be recovered later this afternoon. This was the first successful commercial spaceflight involving re-entry and recovery. The Dragon capsule is under contract to NASA to carry cargo to the International Space Station. Space X is in a battle to also win a contract from NASA to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS once the Space Shuttle is retired next year. A slightly different version of the Dragon capsule would be used for this, atop the same Falcon 9 rocket. This test’s success puts Elon Musk’s Space X much closer to that goal.

I am quite confident that Space X, or whatever other commercial spaceflight company that wins the NASA contract, will be able to cheaply and safely get our astronauts to and from the ISS. There is absolutely no reason NASA should devote more than basic oversight and money to this task. What NASA needs to focus its efforts on now is going beyond the ISS- to asteroids, to Mars, and even farther than that.

In other news, Mozilla has adopted two Red Pandas (aka firefoxes) and is streaming their activities live at What’s most awesome about this is that they’re being kept at the Knoxville Zoo, right here in Tennessee. I DARE you to watch the videos of them and not smile. (Via Candice Burnside)