The era of privatizing space has truly begun. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 lifted off early this morning, bound for the International Space Station, carrying half a ton of nonessential supplies. If it successfully docks with the ISS, then the Dragon capsule becomes the first private spacecraft to make that journey, and paves the way for SpaceX to work with NASA to develop private sector human space flight.
Hats off and congratulations to the folks at SpaceX. Getting off the pad and into space is a huge achievement. A successful mission changes the game, and gets America back into the game. We may be back into space in ways that are cheaper, more efficient and over the long run, more reliable than a mostly government-run program can do. We should be realistic: Our national space capabilities have gone in retrograde with the end of the shuttle program and no realistic replacement in sight. But sometimes you have to take a step backward to get to that next step forward. SpaceX may be that step forward, or one or more of the other private space firms may be. Privatizing as much of our space endeavors as possible is almost certainly that step forward.