After coming within 0.5 seconds of lift-off the other day, Space Explorations Technologies Corp (SpaceX) successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket this morning.
Once in orbit, an unmanned capsule called Dragon is scheduled to rendez-vous with the International Space Station (pictured) on Thursday. Assuming the docking goes well, the Dragon will deliver cargo to the station, then return to Earth in roughly two weeks time.
In an article on the launch, the L.A. Times heralded it as a “new era in space exploration”. That’s because SpaceX is a private corporation in contrast to other agencies like NASA and the European Space Agency that are government-funded. With other wealthy tycoons musing about mining Near Earth asteroids, expect a growing push from the private sector in the years to come to maximize commercial opportunities in space.