The Obama administration’s idea of contracting with the private sector to ferry supplies and astronauts into orbit drew a lot of skepticism when it was proposed earlier this year.
But this week’s successful launch and recovery of a space capsule by a private business should quiet many of the naysayers. Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, has done what only national governments and the European Space Agency have been able to accomplish up to now.
As SpaceX chief Elon Musk told reporters, “We didn’t even have to go to any backup systems.”
The unmanned Dragon space capsule was carried into orbit by the 18-story Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. It completed two Earth orbits 180 miles up, then splashed down off the coast of Mexico close to the targeted area.
The next challenge: A flight in the summer of 2011 to the International Space Station.
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