The private spaceflight industry took another giant leap forward today as privately-owned SpaceX, with help from NASA, successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying its Dragon crew capsule into orbit from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Though the crew capsule was unmanned for this maiden flight, the launch marks the first time a private spaceflight company has launched a spaceship into orbit with the intention of bringing it safely back to Earth.
SpaceX confirmed via Twitter that shortly after liftoff the first stage transitioned beautifully into the Falcon9's second stage burn, which put the Dragon into orbital position. At that point, the Dragon capsule separated from the stage two booster and initiated its own propulsion.
Dragon is now in orbit where it will circle the Earth two or three times before reentering Earth's atmosphere and, if all goes well, splashing down some 500 miles off the coast of Mexico in the Pacific Ocean later today. We'll keep you updated on that progress here. In the meantime, soak up the historic launch below.
Update: At just after 2 p.m. EST, SpaceX's Dragon capsule splashed down in the Pacific after successfully completing reentry maneuvers and deploying its three drag parachutes. The splashdown marks the first time a commercial entity has launched a spacecraft into orbit and successfully brought the crew capsule safely home. Congratulations to SpaceX (and NASA) on a historic job well done.
Historic day indeed! Hooray for private industry and commercial space flight. Keep up the good work!
I'm glad I lived to see this day in history!! Congrats SpaceX
Next up, ticket sales. :)
Can't help but think of the scene from Airplane 2 when Ted Striker is told all the tickets are sold but he finds Eddie Murphey scalping tickets for the lunar shuttle.
NASA: The Next Generation
Good for them, though it says they had help from NASA. now i would love to see the day when this is pulled off without NASA's involvement.(unless there is legislation I'm not aware of that prevents this.)
at this point NASA runs the show concerning space flight from the US, i believe their involvement is technical help and safely traversing the objects already in orbit (i believe some funding also came from NASA)
I wouldn't be surprised if some funding came from NASA, but if their were, it could be called a business expense. See, SpaceX has a contract with NASA for a minimum of 12 cargo runs to the ISS after the Space Shuttle program is retired.
Congratulations to SpaceX!
This is an awesome achievement!!
Thanks to NASA for launch support opperations, some technology transfer along the way and for the confidence and foresight to buy SpaceX products through the NASA Commercial Orbital Transport System (COTS) contracts and the Commercial Resuply Services (CRS) contracts!
SpaceX has invested about $700 million in private money since 2002. NASA has purchased about $250 million in SpaceX products over that time period. SpaceX has about a $4 billion backlog in customer launch agreements, most of them from industry, but NASA still remains, by far, SpaceX's single biggest customer.
SpaceX has built a great modern launch system that stands on the shoulders of the many years of rocket research performed in the 20th century.
SpaceX's most dramatic claim to future success is in their business model and goals to: Provide the safest, most reliable, most economical access to space. This vision is the big deal that enables SpaceX to build a system and a business that can deliver payload to orbit at 3 to 10 times lower cost than any of their competitors. SpaceX is the pioneer of a new space access paradigm that will create a huge off planet market and trully transform humanity into a spacefaring species.
SpaceX, as a company, is focused on economical access to orbit as a profit generating enterprise.
SpaceX's founders share a vision to put thousands of permanent residents on Mars in the coming decades.
Ultimately, the SpaceX team doesn't want to go off planet to look, they want to go off planet to stay.
God speed SpaceX!
Congratulations SpaceX, what an accomplishment for a company that's only been around since 2002.