Thanksto South African born PayPal millionaire Elon Musk, the space age can now truly begin. His space flight company SpaceX has just put a space ship into space for two complete orbits around the Earth, and succesfully splashed it down in the Pacific ocean. The entire flight (including launch) lasted three hours and twenty minutes, and the capsule splashed down within 800m of its landing target. This is the first complete space mission ever by a private entity and marks the beginning of commercial space activity.
SpaceX builds and designs three vehicles of its own design: The Falcon I and IX launch vehicles, and the Dragon space capsule. In December 2008, SpaceX was awarded a $1.6 billion contract to provide supply services to the International Space Station (ISS). Under the terms of this contract, SpaceX is required to conduct three demonstration flights and twelve missions to carry cargo to and from the ISS. Wednesday’s success provides convincing proof that SpaceX will be able to fulfill the contract, and proves that commercial space enterprises will be able to fill the gaps left behind by recent NASA program cuts. A wonderful day for anybody with any interest in space travel!