The Era Of Commercialized Space Has Begun – SpaceX, Musk Triumphant | Singularity Hub
The Dragon’s docking certainly marks a new era in spaceflight. No longer is it solely the provence of governments. But the shift in the spaceflight paradigm can be mapped to 2004, with Burt Rutan’s claiming of the Ansari X PRIZE. His SpaceShipOne became the first privately-built manned spacecraft to reach space. Instead of costing billions or needing a team of thousands, SpaceShipOne required just $26 million and thirty engineers. Rutan’s company, Scaled Composites, demonstrated that individuals can do the job just as good if not better and more cheaply than governments.
Wearing protective masks and goggles in case of lose debris, ISS commander Oleg Kononenko and astronaut Pettit opened Dragon’s hatch early Saturday morning and floated through. The Dragon and its contents were perfectly in order, and Pettit said it smelled “like a brand new car.” Fitting for the brand new era of spaceflight that the Dragon has also delivered.
NASA is funding three other companies in addition to SpaceX to develop vehicles to fly astronauts to space. Orbital Sciences Corp plans on launching its Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule later this year.