SpaceX Dragon triumph: Only the beginning
A mini-space shuttle called Dream Chaser, seen in this illustration, is expected to begin atmospheric testing this year.
May 25th, 2012
06:15 AM ET

SpaceX Dragon triumph: Only the beginning

SpaceX made history Friday as the first private company to successfully reach an orbiting space station - but its competitors aren't far behind.

Blue Origin, the commercial space outfit founded by Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos, has been wind-tunnel testing its Space Vehicle capsule, which is designed to carry up to seven astronauts to the International Space Station, much like SpaceX's Dragon capsule.

Another company, Sierra Nevada, is preparing to dangle a test version of its shuttle-like Dream Chaser from helicopters later this year to find out how well it slips through the air. The sleek spacecraft - which could lift off as soon as 2016 or 2017 - is designed to launch atop a powerful Atlas V rocket and then use its wings to fly back to Earth for a runway landing.

And a fourth private firm called Orbital Sciences Corp. is planning its first launch later in the year.

Related: A new era begins? 

SpaceX's achievement crosses an important threshold in America's shift toward a commercially led space industry. The door is opening to cheaper, more efficient and easier access to orbit, say experts, at a time when American astronauts must hitch rides aboard Russian spacecraft.

Related: SpaceX mission includes 'Trek' actor's ashes 

Blue Origin tested its capsule last month in Dallas, confirming its ability to descend correctly through the atmosphere and to change its flight path, according to a Blue Origin statement.

A Blue Origin illustration of its capsule during wind tunnel tests.

Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket system is designed for vertical takeoff and landing. The spacecraft's liquid oxygen-liquid hydrogen rocket engine systems have been undergoing testing at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the company said.

It's been in business for only 12 years, and the company is already creating museum pieces - in this case an unmanned test vehicle called Charon.

Workers in Seattle moved the 9,500-pound machine into the Museum of Flight on Tuesday. Charon and its four powerful vertically set jet engines helped New Shepard engineers learn more about reusable booster rockets that blast off and land vertically.

"We've all seen cartoons of rockets landing vertically, and it really hasn't happened yet," museum President Douglas King said. "Figuring out how to do that in a way that's controllable and replicable is what this is all about."

Workers moved Charon into the museum Tuesday.

Flying Charon by remote control "felt like trying to balance something on top of  a ball," King was told. "That's what Blue Origin is trying to learn to do: to fly a rocket booster back to the pad and then land it gently."

Sitting in the museum's Space Gallery, about 20 feet to the right of Charon, is a Russian Soyuz rocket capsule that flew to the space station in 2009.

"You think about this little tiny capsule as being all that returned from a big three-part spacecraft, and you get an idea how expensive spaceflight is and how we need to make access to space reasonable for a lot more people," King said. "You've got to make it reliable and affordable to do that."

Related: Stellar week for SpaceX founder

The Dragon mission is beginning to demonstrate the exciting moment in history we're living in, he said.

"Things that used to only be accessible to a few carefully selected highly qualified right-stuff government employees are finally coming within reach of researchers, businesspeople and explorers," King said. "SpaceX deserves a lot of credit. That's an incredible achievement out there today - done only by governments before - and a lot of other people are going to follow."

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Filed under: Hardware in Orbit • In Space • News
soundoff (293 Responses)
  1. gshf2012

    Meetup Message from: mark ellenbogen, Member of Drinks and Doom (a post apocalyptic book club)
    God Shuffled His Feet-A Novel by Mark Ellenbogen-Great Apocalyptic fun!

    Hey all I am here to pump a fun new read called God Shuffled His Feet-a Novel. Never taken too seriously, a humorous Science fact and Fiction novel with a twisted turn on the Apocalypse. If selected to read by your group, I would like to offer to the group one free paperback for any three ordered either as e-book or paperback. Available on Amazon, B and N, or Goodreads.

    Synopsis

    Tesla-Space X-and Elon Musk to save mankind!! Fun and fast paced new science fiction novel
    A must read–God Shuffled His Feet—A Novel by Mark Ellenbogen
    Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads.
    Exciting fun novel with a humorous apocalyptic twist. Elon Musk-Tesla and Space X help save mankind from total destruction! Meet astronomers Ravi Najir and Sam Klein, two PHD doctoral students from Humboldt, California, about to have their world turned upside down--literally. The duo wins a $250,000 grant and a coveted year long viewing slot using the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the heavens. Little do they know that what they are about discover, will rock the Earth, their lives, and the heavens all at once!
    High in the far reaches of space, up where the Crab Nebula is supposed to be, a new solar system has formed and Klein and Najir are about to discover it. Within minutes of accessing their chosen Hubble coordinates, two new celestial bodies are discovered where none existed before!!
    Dubbing their discovery the Master Kush Formation; the two unlikely heroes are quickly rocketed to fame and glory over night. A new sun and a fully habitable blue-green planet have taken the place of the Crab Nebula. God plans to wipe the Earth clean and start over!!!
    The clock is ticking and time is running out. Only a few will make it. The boys enlist the help of Elon Musk, Tesla and Space X to manage the technology and transport the saved. Do you have what it takes? Open up God Shuffled His Feet for the ride of your life!! Peppered with interesting trivia, thoughtful humor and some suspenseful science fiction God Shuffled His Feet will entertain while provoking some thought in the process.

    September 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  2. gshf2012

    Elon, Tesla and Space X Save the World!
    Read the new novel by Mark Ellenbogen-God Shuffled His Feet!! Elon Musk, Tesla and Space X take an active role in saving the world. Humorous, well researched and a tribute to Musk's forward thinking and innovation. Have fun reading as the main characters test drive a Tesla Roadster and Space X develops a MagLev drive for land, see and space travel.

    August 26, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  3. T

    Like that photo of a mini-shuttle called the Dream Chaser. It looks very cool. Hopes it becomes a reality.
    It reminds me of the shuttlepod from the short lived Star Trek: ENTERPRISE tv series.

    May 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  4. remember telstar50

    July 1962, first commercial satellite: Telstar, built by Bell Labs (then AT&T), launched by NASA.
    And first live TV between the USA and Europe: JFK news conference. Exactly 50 years ago.
    It will be celebrated at the National Air & Space Museum this July, 12. Stay tuned!

    May 27, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  5. Bill

    Disappointing that this blog post talks up the silly Jeff Bezos Blue Origin team working on single-stage to orbit, vertical take-off rockets without mentioning that 1) the Blue Origin stuff has repeatedly blown up or crashed and 2) the Government repeatedly succeeded in demonstrating vertical take-off, single-stage rocket technology with the DC-X and Clipper vehicles....canceled by Sean O'Keefe, the accountant who Bush installed as NASA Director for a while.

    May 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Lee S

      Name one rocket system that worked with 100 percent effiency during testing. A lot of the failures are probably still classified. Figuring out what makes rockets fail is probably one of the biggest secrets to have in the industry. It costs millions to figure out what you did wrong. Imagine how much time a company could save if they were privy to that info.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • kh

      I don't see where it's "talked up". In fact it sounds like they've been working for 12 years and haven't really done anything yet.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  6. svann

    When do they expect to turn a profit?

    May 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Blayze Kohime

      Very soon, probably; the wealthy will pay big bucks to go up into orbit in a spaceship. Not to mention it will be cheaper for the US government to pay one of these companies than to develop and build their own crafts, freeing up their money for satelites and robots.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
      • Dude

        You got that right. Despite the requirement of passing some cosmonaut training and learning basic Russian, there is a line of people waiting to pay $20 million for a ride to the space station for a few days. Also, you are expected to work while you are up there.

        Put up a small private facility, possibly like the inflatable system NASA developed, and offer a one week stay in 0 Gs for $50 million. The ship can carry seven people. With a crew of 2 that 5 passengers, which adds up to a quarter billion per launch. Plus $25 per bag, $7 landing fee . . .

        June 8, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Kosmoscanyon

      I already did the math, Nasa pays Space x 1.6 billion for 12 launches or 133 million per launch. Space x claims it will cost from 80-125 million per launch so we average those two together for 102.5 million. 133 minus 102.5 equals 30.5 profit. Where that money goes afterwards I don't know, but I'm sure investors will get at least 10% "3.05 million" their money back per launch. So really I think 27.45 million will be closer to Space x's profits.

      October 5, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  7. mary

    This is rich spoiled kids being rich spoiled kids. There is nothing practical or useful that will come out of this.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Bob

      Quite the contrary. There is "nothing practical or useful" in your comment. I seriously doubt that there is anything practical or useful in your existence.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
      • Professor

        Thanks Bob! I am always amazed these idiots use their keyboard and computer that were developed in part to calculate orbital trajectiories to complain about the space program.

        I hear a lot about greed and the "rich" on these blogs. Greed, hatred, and envy are by far the greater sins. Though shalt not COVET. The rich do not take food from you, they don't force you at gunpoint to pay money. The rich are NOT rich because you are poor. YOU are not POOR because there are RICH people. This perspective is pure Marxist propoganda and it is absolutely, demonstrably false.

        Elon Musk has done the world a great, great service. I am sure when Walt Disney was building up central Florida the Marxists whined and cried about that- oh the rich are making a playground, only the rich will go to Disneyworld. Give me a break. He may not quite be a god but I will say this: Elon willing my son will pilot an orbital ship someday.

        May 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
      • flashtrum

        Professor hit the nail on the head.

        May 27, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Blayze Kohime

      Except all the US taxpayer money that will not be spent by NASA building their own spacecraft; instead they will pay a much lower expense renting space on commercial spacecraft. This could save billions of dollars in the long run, money that would have otherwise came out of the pockets of citizens like you and me.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
      • Jorge

        One of the most foresighted comments I've read. You got it spot on.

        May 31, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Pepinium

      Mary, it is always reassuring there are people like you out there with the vision of a department store clerk, :), after all, we all need someone to make our fries for us at McDonald's. Fortunately, people with your "mental capacity" (He, he), put yourselves in your place and, generally, are not able to influence events or have any significant impact on society. Don't bother your pretty little head with subjects like this ( I am sure it hurts when you think). Now, just go bad to Twitter and Facebook and watching America's Funniest Videos. Someday, if you are lucky you will be the first in your family to graduate from Middle School, :))).

      May 27, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Val

      Even if that were so, it put many people to work and thereby has contributed to stimulating the economy and increases our GDP.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:54 am |
  8. My Take

    thank goodness for SpaceX. NASA got way out of control with their spending. I'm glad the private sector showed the government how to launch a space program without spending a trillion dollars.

    May 27, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Bill

      You don't really know what you're talking about, I'm sorry to say.

      The idea that this (or any other space endeavor) is really solely "commercial" is a fallacy.  First of all, NASA gave SpaceX a contract for nearly $400 Million to develop the Dragon capsule. They didn't do it without significant Government investment. Secondly, SpaceX was able to draw upon THOUSANDS of U.S. Government studies, experiments, and tests dating back to the Apollo program which made it SIGNIFICANTLY easier for SpaceX to develop the Dragon spacecraft. These include NASA's development of capsule shapes and heat shield technologies, reentry mathematics and methods, orbital dynamics and rendezvous procedures, rocket engines and staging techniques, and tons of other widgets, reports, studies, and results that SpaceX didn't have to do themselves thanks to decades of work by Government engineers and scientists.  Finally, a large fraction of the SpaceX workforce *IS* former NASA employees and NASA contractors who learned how to do this stuff the hard way and came to SpaceX only because the Government has prevented NASA from doing the things the Government used to let it do (you can thank Lori Garver for that one, by the way). My point is that, to a very large extent, this is not just SpaceX doing this...it's the long blue line of space professionals in NASA going back decades who gave them the technology and, in many cases, the very people they hired to do this.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
      • My Take

        everyone already knows what you have said above; NASA would have turned this into a 50 billion dollar project if they were running it. I can list at least 10 failed project that NASA kept pouring billions into just to keep their employees working. Let me k ow if you want me to list them, I would be glad to.

        May 27, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
      • Professor

        NASA is not even a government program for space travel any more. NASA is a jobs program with contractors spread strategically through congressional districts in order to buy votes for funding. NASA has spent $9 Billion designing a rocket with 30 year old off the shelf hardware. Nothing ever flew.

        Space X has spent less than $1 Billion- only 1/3 of that from NASA so far- and has 2 brand new 21st Century working rockets, something like 5 successful space missions, a docking with ISS, and a crew capsule they have already recovered that is just about ready to launch humans and is already MUCH safer than the shuttle ever thought of being. By next year SpaceX will fly a heavy lift class rocket with a larger payload than the space shuttle. An estimate that NASA would have spent $50 Billion developing all this capability is extremely generous. My guess is they would have designed the rockets, redesigned them, filtered them out to contractors all across the country, spent $50 Billion, and THEN lobbied congress for more because STILL NOTHING WOULD HAVE FLOWN.

        May 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
      • sgray

        "The idea that this (or any other space endeavor) is really solely "commercial" is a fallacy. First of all, NASA gave SpaceX a contract for nearly $400 Million to develop the Dragon capsule."

        Only AFTER Elon musk developed: the first liquid engine development in the US since the SSME (70s)
        The Falcon 1, Falcon 9, Draco thruster, etc....
        The "capsule" was built before the NASA $$ came along. saw it personally in the high bay BEFORE the COTS contract.

        " They didn't do it without significant Government investment. Secondly, SpaceX was able to draw upon THOUSANDS of U.S. Government studies, experiments, and tests dating back to the Apollo program which made it SIGNIFICANTLY easier for SpaceX to develop the Dragon spacecraft."

        No, SpaceX did almost ALL of their development in house with very little NASA help (at first). Including Li-Al friction stir welding. (IN house)

        "These include NASA's development of capsule shapes and heat shield technologies, reentry mathematics and methods, orbital dynamics and rendezvous procedures, rocket engines and staging techniques, and tons of other widgets, reports, studies, and results that SpaceX didn't have to do themselves thanks to decades of work by Government engineers and scientists."

        Sorry again, anything published by NASA has to be ITAR "export" agreed to in advance. There is very little "high tech" that NASA has worked on in the recent past that is available to the general public. NASA does not reveal "re-entry" shapes without an export license & technology transfer agreement.

        AND all that NASA "developed" was done by German Engineers that we snuck out of Germany at the end of WWII. So NASA did not even do this development themselves either.

        " Finally, a large fraction of the SpaceX workforce *IS* former NASA employees and NASA contractors who learned how to do this stuff the hard way and came to SpaceX only because the Government has prevented NASA from doing the things the Government used to let it do"

        Wrong again! Did you see the video of the launch success at the SpaceX facility cafeteria (again, I have stood right in the middle of)??
        EVERY SINGLE person you see cheering is too young to have even been alive during Apollo or EVEN shuttle initial launch. Almost 100% of those engineers are green, and had never seen a rocket launch in their lives until THEY DID IT.

        Try again.

        May 27, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
      • Don Jones

        Sgray, NASA "development" owes its biggest debt to Robert H. Goddard as do the Germans. Goddard, a Norman born in America, was the genius who Von Braun and the Germans copied.

        May 28, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Blayze Kohime

      NASA appears to be quite adept at designing exploration robots and drones for other nearby planets, but terrible at designing short-range craft for our own atmosphere. It makes no sense to me.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Pepinium

      Don't fool yourself My Take, private industry only gets involved in R

      Don't fool yourself My Take, private industry only gets involved in R&D after the government has done most of the dirty work and demonstrated that an idea has high probability of being profitable. That is what happened with Nuclear Power, the Internet, and now the space program. Remember, the accountants who normally run corporations have to show a quick return on investment for the stockholders. Everyone knows that fusion power represents a potentially inexhaustible source of energy but the only research going on in this field over the last 50 years all over the world is happening in government sponsored labs and universities for this same reason. I know that the "private industry should always take the lead" idea is very much in vogue among the "keep government small" crowd but I hope there is still enough objectivity in your mind to do a little research on this points I have made. You will conclude I am right. Accountants have NO VISION !!! Complex research and development projects may go for decades before they can show that a profit is possible. These two concepts don't play well together !!!

      May 27, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  9. Spock here

    Not to mention in a year or two we won't be paying the Russians to do what we will be able to do ourselves. We've got our pride back now. Onward and upward!

    May 27, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  10. dmadam

    How come no mention of Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic program in New Mexico>

    May 27, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Bob

      Because the article is about orbital vehicles. Scaled/Virgin's vehicles are suborbital and therefore not the subject of this article.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  11. John

    Congratulations and Thank You, SpaceX!

    Job well done. I hope you have a Moon Base plan in the works. There is so much that can be done, found, and learned by establishing an Outpost on the Moon, no matter what one's ultimate space exploration goals may be! If you all would like to explore the Moon, please publisize it. We would love to donate to such an effort!

    John and Peggy

    May 27, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • FactChecker

      Manned missions are just for showing off, not for science or discovery. There have already been robots sent to Mars that worked there for over 6 years! The Mars rovers cost about the same amount as this SpaceX mission, so it was very cheap. And there was no danger of loss of life.

      May 27, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
      • Wastrel

        I respectfully disagree. Having a thinking creature at the scene is esstial to scientific advancement. Moreover, it is inecitable that we will colonize the moon.

        May 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  12. IdahoTom

    Just sad to see poor basement kids that has no life just always complaining about a company (what they call corporate evil empire driven by greed) doing something that is absolutely mind bogglingly complicated (both in management and technical aspect) and not having any understanding in how difficult it is to do something with space exploration and especially the launching aspect of it. You first of all, for starters, need lots of money. Hence concluding that people with lots of money trying to do something that not a lot of people can do = it must be driven by greed and nothing else is just frustrating and highly offensive to these pioneers.

    It might be the intent of lightyears to gather all engineers around the country to help educate these poor souls that has no grasp of reality in how difficult it is to build things, how to get the funding to do so (this part can be ugly, but has to be done) and how to manage a project of this scope through this commentary board. But gosh, I guess it's well known, but you have to all be very very patient with these basement kids. They probably haven't seen daylight in a while because they've been working on their corporate conspiracy theory.

    Good job SpaceX, your work is very inspiring. And if it's for money, totally do it for money. I mean, why would you want to spend BILLIONS of dollars on something to just get started up unless it is for the money. This gap in the aspect of reality between technological development with respect to space exploration and what people calls passion has to be narrowed pretty soon.

    May 27, 2012 at 12:42 am |
  13. Bill

    Way to go Space X! I bet Space X or a similar company makes it to Mars before NASA does. Probably back to the moon before China does too.

    May 26, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Ken

      SpaceX can rot for all I care. They stole the contract though shaddy means. Others with more experience and lower bids were trumped by criminal means. Ask spaceX how they got their originial startup cash..... They ripped off folks by promising space "funerals" they knew they could not deliver on.

      May 26, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
      • JD

        I applaud you. Many others do not so boldly speak their mind when they don't know what they are talking about.

        May 27, 2012 at 9:47 am |
      • Bob

        You mean like the ashes that they launched in this dragon capsule? Sounds like they're delivering.

        May 27, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Ken

      Also ask their underpaid overworked techs..... I bet they would have some fun stories for you.

      May 26, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
      • JD

        Ken, I'd like you to meet Facts. Facts, this is Ken. I understand you two have never met.

        May 27, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Bill

      The idea that this (or any other space endeavor) is really solely "commercial" is a fallacy.  First of all, NASA gave SpaceX a contract for nearly $300 Million to develop the Dragon capsule. They didn't do it without significant Government investment. Secondly, SpaceX was able to draw upon THOUSANDS of U.S. Government studies, experiments, and tests dating back to the Apollo program which made it SIGNIFICANTLY easier for SpaceX to develop the Dragon spacecraft. These include NASA's development of capsule shapes and heat shield technologies, reentry mathematics and methods, orbital dynamics and rendezvous procedures, rocket engines and staging techniques, and tons of other widgets, reports, studies, and results that SpaceX didn't have to do themselves thanks to decades of work by Government engineers and scientists.  Finally, a large fraction of the SpaceX workforce *IS* former NASA employees and NASA contractors who learned how to do this stuff the hard way and came to SpaceX only because the Government has prevented NASA from doing the things the Government used to let it do (you can thank Lori Garver for that one, by the way). My point is that, to a very large extent, this is not just SpaceX doing this...it's the long blue line of space professionals in NASA going back decades who gave them the technology and, in many cases, the very people they hired to do this.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
      • Australopithecus Africanus

        Now Bill – why didnt you draw on the information of NASA that was in the public space . . . . ?

        May 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  14. jamessavik

    A journey of 10,000 miles starts with the first step.

    This is just the beginning.

    May 26, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  15. Ildiko Ross

    Congratulations SpaceX.

    May 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  16. peggy munro

    Can you please explain what you mean by CancerX? Is this something we should be concerned over?

    May 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  17. Whizerd67

    My only question is....
    Why????
    The only answer is......
    GREED...for now, and the future.
    This may be the excuse for legalized culling of humans. I can see absolutely NO reason for ANYONE from this planet to want to inhabit/vacation/work in space. Not when the very life of every human on this planet is in dire need of saving the very planet itself.
    Selfish, greedy, incorrigible, traitorous humans...each and every one of them!

    May 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • svann

      "You will always have poor..."
      Jesus

      May 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Anarkhos

      I know for damn sure I'm not greedy, and Iwould definitly want to be involved in projects to push the boundaries of human existance. The rest of your post sounds like some paranoid Ghia cult rant.

      May 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Jonquil

      But don't you see, Whizerd67, diversifying options for completing these routine tasks, opens-up resources for the challenges that, really, only a country can still do - at present - like deep space exploration, asteroid deflection and mining, etc. At one point, only a government could afford to do these trips. But now, we've moved on to the next "frontier" or challenge in Space exploration.

      There are so, many different minds in this country - and around The World - working to find solutions to our problems. By making smarter use of our resources, we'll have more to spread around on other projects, like Public Health research, sustainable energy infrastructure building and pollution-free, waste management. This launch is a very, positive thing because it proves we don't have to pick and choose what we focus on, if we're smart about how we use our resources - we can find ways of addressing it all.

      May 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • theseconddavid

      There are 3.5 billion too many people on this planet. Our only hope for the future is to get off this planet.

      May 27, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Dagorath

      Don't be ridiculous. Why is it so terrible for them to be motivated by monetary gains? Technology is the only savior of humanity, and just look what happens when technology merges with the commercial sector – cell phones 10 years ago could barely take pictures, now they can do everything a computer can and more. That kind of innovation is only possible when the motivation is profit.

      It's also rather stunning how much of the technology created for space exploration tends to benefit other sectors of our society – specifically, the medical sector. Who knows that incredible innovations will come from companies competing in the space race!

      This is an incredible moment for mankind, and the start of something new. The door to space has been opened for business. Futurama, here we come.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Professor

      Though shalt not Covet.

      May 27, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  18. Rob

    I am very happy to see a US-made system get up to the ISS, but this flight was scheduled to launch months ago. I think Space X is up to the task, but they have some serious maturing ahead of them before they can boast about their successes. Good job guys, but we need more of the same...and on time!

    May 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Wut

      The schedule, even with its delays, is still greatly accelerated over Constellation. Be glad any spacecraft is being launced from the US.

      May 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • wermet

      Most NASA launches were/are late and/or postponed. This is also true of ESA and JAXA launches. China is having growing pains.

      So, is all the "experienced organizations" are still having these types of problems, then why are you criticizing SpaceX? Particularly after all of their recent successes and their relatively inexpensive and rapid development effort.

      Go SpaceX! Good job and God's speed!

      May 26, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Bill

      Actually, it was supposed to occur TWO YEARS ago.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  19. Don Jones

    Fascism at its finest. Government (s) pretend that a company is independent but really it is funded, given tech and ultimately controlled by government and it's banking allies. America the free died in the Great Depression. Now like dogs you work for government and the banks. Enjoy your slavery dogs.

    May 26, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Rocket Man

      I have a great idea Don Jones, go live on an island somewhere outside the USA!

      May 26, 2012 at 8:56 am |
      • Don Jones

        forgive me for my statment – I know not what i say, for i am just jelous of how you americans live..

        May 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Randy

      Don, really....you believe we are all slaves to the banks and government? Look around around you and take a minute to see the excesses we all enjoy. At no time in the history of the world has there been more freedoms and wealth. If through ones ingnorance and greed do they find themselves working for their bank, they to shall be grateful that they were given the right to get themselves in the trap, and they are also given the right to get themselves out.

      May 26, 2012 at 9:00 am |
      • R

        While I don't agree with the degree of gov/bank control it is there. How have banks been able to screw us with hundreds of billions lost and they are still in business and there greedy upper management still has jobs and bonuses. Maybe not fascism, but certainly controlled by careless gluttons and greed. We'll all enjoy the collapse when it happens.

        May 26, 2012 at 9:34 am |
      • Don Jones

        Freedom from want and Freedom are two different things, Randy (dog vs wolf). Employment = Master/Servant relationship it is in the tax code. People can't step outside the system of debt slavery for purchases and business creation or employment by a government/bank owned corp. The rich all serve the system, live on debt and own thus have bought up the means of production....Fascism. You dogs get your paychecks and some trinkets to keep you happy. PS I did NOT aplogize for telling you all the truth and slapping you in the face with it to get your attention.

        May 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • John

      BINGO. Don Jones my fellow government slave. It's amazing how American slaves think they are free just because their masters give them deviant television and useless toys to play with.

      May 26, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Dan

      Don
      You are a misguided, pompous, little punk. Please keep your silly comments to yourself.

      May 26, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • thetruth

      I agree with the 2nd post...you don't know....

      May 26, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Wut

      I don't see the Don Jones Orbital Express birthing with the ISS. Yack all you want with your faux revolutionary agency, at the end of the day, you ain't done nuthin but whine on the internet.

      May 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Don Jones

      Dogs on a leash so happy and proud to roll over and shake a paw for their masters. Look at how they bark when a stranger comes and says things against their master's system. Get back to your "make work" jobs doggies, master has loans to pay.

      May 27, 2012 at 9:09 am |
      • Dagorath

        So if we are the dog on a leash, what are you? Are you the dog at the pound or perhaps dying of hunger? The dog who hasn't had a bath for months, or who's teeth are falling out? If we are enslaved to prosperity, what are you? The purpose of a government is to regulate and make decisions for the people, much in the same way a pet owner would make decisions for their pet. The difference; however, that you seem to overlook, is that we are still a democracy, and as long as we have freedom of speech, we will never be limited to a growl.

        May 27, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Dagorath

      If our slavery is to live in a first world country, then I will enjoy it; thank you. Being enslaved to prosperity is a beautiful thing – don't be so jealous. Further, I wouldn't care even if this was government funded. Better to spend tax dollars furthering the possibilities for mankind then going around attempting to police a world that doesn't want to be policed. Additionally, the government has reason to fund this exploration, considering they are discontinuing the shuttle, and need a new way to get our astronauts into space. There's no corruption here, no conspiracy – just American enterprise at its finest. Again, don't be so jealous.

      May 27, 2012 at 11:00 am |
      • Bob

        People who say americans are slaves have no idea what real slavery is.

        May 27, 2012 at 11:58 am |
      • Don Jones

        Dagorath, very snappy comments :) but you made couple of points that show you just don't understand. One: You said America is a democracy...dog thinking. In truth it is a Republic. Why do most people think it is a democracy? Who led you to believe that? There is a huge difference! In a democracy sovereignty is in the group where as in a republic it is in the Individual. As an American you should know this. How sad that you don't. Two: Governments have NO money just debt and taxes which they use to obtain currency. Gov'ts cannot fund anything without stealing it directly from another person. America was built on that idea that governments SERVE and that is why it became so rich. Now you have allowed it to be switched it...you have gone from free wolves to dogs....and therefore doom awaits.

        May 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Rodger

      Don Jones
      Clearly you have never lived in a fascist country. I have, two in fact. If you think our country is even close, you need to travel a bit and learn about reality.

      As for SpaceX – Urah! Good job folks, keep it up!

      For those of you who question leaving the planet – you are probably the same people (reincarnated maybe?) that questioned Columbus, Magellan, the opening of the American west and the original hominids that left Africa... Fear is a terrible thing.

      May 31, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  20. Mark Smith

    When all the hoopla stopped, then end result of the mission was, "hmm, skittles!".

    May 26, 2012 at 6:39 am |
    • Wut

      I don't get it.

      May 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  21. Josh

    Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser certainly looks interesting.

    IMHO, NASA, SpaceX, and the others going back to the 1960's style splash down in the middle of an ocean, seems so archaic. So backward. So primitive. So yuck.

    May 26, 2012 at 6:29 am |
    • KC

      So less expensive, more efficient, and less prone to failure.

      May 26, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • FactChecker

      When you really think about it though, it makes sense to land in water. The ocean is a very large, flat, soft landing surface. Hard to miss. And a space capsule already has to be air-tight, so it will float. In fact, I can't think of any advantage to a land-landing.

      May 26, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Rob

      I agree... So is lifting off with rocket fuel, why not just warp speed up there! It costs less money, to have a splash down, than to glide or fly a craft back down.

      May 26, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Wut

      You must be very confident in your aerospace enginnering chops to mess with success.

      May 26, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  22. Joseph

    Hi people, hope you were as thrilled as I was on the launch and docking as I was.I work at Spacex and am pretty sure that all you saw was designed, built and tested at our Hawthorn plant. We work for a man who has given this dream his all, how could we possibly do less. First of many

    May 26, 2012 at 3:32 am |
    • Groo

      I'm definitely excited by it. I was watching live on cnn.com when the rendezvous happened. The idea that we have 2 space exploration agencies at work now with more coming in the future opens the door for a lot of possibilities in the future. It's not just fantastic that we can have so much more going on up there in space with more people working to study and explore it, but the possibility for joint ventures in the future. Imagine a collaboration on a project to send a mission to Mars or something like that. As they say, 2 heads are better than one and I think we could make ambitious things like that happen a lot faster now. Congratulations on the successful mission, and here's hoping you many more in the future!

      May 26, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • FactChecker

      Just a little detail is different. SpaceX is not talking about putting a permanant colony on the moon and making the colony a state. That was crazy.

      May 26, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • FactChecker

      High five! This must be a spectacular day for you. I have to admit I didn't expect it to go so well.

      May 26, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  23. elena

    BThorh the BOR-4 test vehicles the Russian developed were simply smaller versions of the NASA shuttle. The Russians got the blueprints from the smithsonian museum under the freedom of information act. They simply could not make a larger version, cause they didnt have the tech or money to do so. The BOR-4 is just a copycat of the shuttle.

    May 26, 2012 at 3:20 am |
    • BThorn

      No, BOR-4 is nothing like the Shuttle. BOR-4 and HL-20 were wingless lifting bodies. Shuttle was delta-winged. You are probably thinking of Russia's Buran Shuttle.

      May 26, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  24. Sue

    SpaceX is vastly different than Blue Origin. SpaceX actually wants to invest into space exploration, interplanetary travel, and becoming a multi-plantery species. Blue origin sounds like space travel for rich folk. Elon Musk has completely invested into SpaceX and wants to usher in a new space era. Jeff Bezos....seems like just another project to earn money.

    May 26, 2012 at 2:46 am |
  25. Jt_flyer

    An exciting time! I say keep going and never stop.

    May 26, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • HuhDuh

      SpaceX, for 400 million, has accomplished what Nazis scientists did for NASA in the early '60s for a cup of coffee. WHOPPIEEE.... Are you kidding? Are you kidding?

      May 26, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  26. Wade

    It says a lot about the liberal media that Obama gets so much attention as the COW PIE President yet one of the greatest things to happen in our life time gets a few words here and there. congratulations to the people at Space X.

    May 26, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  27. u.s. slave

    Road rage to space rage

    May 26, 2012 at 12:51 am |
  28. William Bresch

    I am extremely greatful, I made History setting up launch complex 41 Security for SpaceX. the Bresch name will forever be attached to launch complex 41 and every Rocket that goes up thereafter.

    ~Will Bresch~

    May 26, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • R

      You as an ignorant don't. I SALUTE YOU SIR! Keep our space missions moving forward. I think this will be the job boom as all the support industries kick in.

      May 26, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Grafikman

      Congratulations, William.

      If only I could have such a proud achievement to attach my name to. Onward and upward!

      Kudos!

      Graf

      May 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  29. Paganguy

    "We've all seen cartoons of rockets landing vertically, and it really hasn't happened yet" – Not a true statement
    All the Moon landings were done by rockets landing vertically with astronauts on board.

    May 26, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • SB

      I'm sure he was referring to vertical rocket landings on Earth.

      May 26, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Sciguy73

      Sorry, but when I think 'rocket', the LEM is not the first image that springs to mind.

      May 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  30. Michael

    I am that 10% that knows a lot about space travel, been closely following the space program for 30 years! The shuttle was a monumental waste of time, we had the technology to go to the moon and beyond in the 60/70's and we built a vehicle that could not go to the moon, go to mars, could not travel anywhere except up into orbit. Had millions of complicated parts, many of which could fail, when all we really needed was simplicity! If we had built on the Apollo program we would have been on Mars by now! It is very similar to Henry Ford and Rudolph Diesel starting with electric cars and then becoming enamored with the combustion of gasoline. We wasted a 100 years with the internal combustion engine and are now finally coming back to electric. What most people are missing here is it is the same Elon Musk who is accomplishing both tasks. He got us back into space, when frankly all hope seemed lost! He also has a car company (American) that is the envy of the world. Forget the snazy super fast Roadster, and look up the specs on the Tesla S and the Tesla X, they are revolutionary electric cars, that even the biggest car company in the world Toyota are buying into. Mark your calender 2012, this one amazing guy has put America back at the top in both space and automobiles. What we need is more guys, and women like Elon Musk who stop bickering, complaining and just say Carpe Diem!

    May 26, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • Harvey Wallbanger

      It is my understanding the first manned Mars landing was planned for 1986. Other things took priority, like the war in Vietnam and spending money in the most inefficient and wasteful ways possible. You are correct about the shuttle, a boondoggle if there ever was one. To justify it, the political decision was made to use it to ferry up the space station in fifty or so launches. The Saturn V could have launched the entire thing in four or five pieces.

      May 26, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • Jonquil

      So true, Michael. None of us live forever. We have too many sticks in the mud, grumbling and spewing cynicism, instead of picking-up a tool and trying to do what they can to fix things and realize new developments. Americans need to shake out of this funk we've been in over the past, five years and get back up to speed.

      And to all of you Baby Boomers, thinking the only way to keep America on the right path is to drag her back into an archaic age, shake out of this rut and get back into the groove. Noone should throw in the towl on anything. Retired and or stuck at home? Get into the best, physical shape of your life - lower Public Health costs for all of us - and grow a garden or get busy designing something. I can't believe that such a large group, that was powering this country with generally optimistic and hopeful energy, turned into such a mass group of fuddy-duddy grumps, in less than 20 years' time.

      Snap out of it. You're alive. You're seeing a significant advancement in Space exploration, that's nearly as exciting as what you saw as kids. Chin up.

      May 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Dagorath

      I can't help but agree with all of you. We are so surrounded by bad news these days, but this is revolutionary, and absolutely makes me proud to be an American.

      May 27, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  31. Paul Carroll

    It was interesting that the museum president had not heard of McDonnell-Douglas' DC-X and DC-XA programs. It was sad when it crashed back in 1996. And now Blue Origin is basing their work off of that.

    May 25, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  32. planetvisitor

    The idea of the article is positive and correct, but the reality of it is not. Without listing each individual company trying to emulate what SpaceX just accomplished, none of them are going to reach the ISS in the third quarter of this year, or even close to that.. That is their website, they need income to keep building. Falconry rockets were tested for the past several years, and the Dragon capsule was sent into orbit over a year and a half ago, all precursors to being allowed to try to attach to the ISS. Each and every other company will have to demonstrate that minimal success first- then start writing about "only the beginning".

    May 25, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Rob

      Well put comment...this article makes it sound much easier than it is to make it into space and reach the space station.

      May 26, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • welllusawater

      You aren't correct in the slightest.

      Blue Origin- Wind Testing

      Sierra Nevada- 2016

      Orbital Science Corp- Planning First launch

      You have no valid points, this article is 100% objective and you have terrible reading comprehension.

      May 26, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  33. WhackyWaco

    If you look deeper into these companies you will find that they are heavily funded by taxpayers via the US government.

    May 25, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • n2video

      And so what, Whacky? Just how did you write your complaint here in this column? Oh! On a computer? You can thank the tax funded NASA space program for your personal computer. You a**holes who complain about taxes use tax-funded roads EVERY SINGLE DAY. Your home is protected by tax-funded policemen and firemen. Do you want to give all that up? If so, please leave.

      May 25, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
      • sharoom

        I am not sure if Whacky is saying taxpayer funding of these companies is a bad thing. I am in support of this if it allows NASA to focus on exploring the rest of the solar system and deep space.

        May 26, 2012 at 12:03 am |
      • Sciguy73

        Please cite your source for where NASA invented the personal computer.

        May 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • SB

      Your definition of "heavily" is laughable. The funds SpaceX did receive came out of NASA's pocket, and NASA only gets about half a penny on the tax dollar to begin with. Let's give you some perspective with real numbers, shall we? So far the F35 fighter project has cost us about 12 billion dollars and we have zero aircraft on the line. NASA gets less than 20 billion per year, and from that they gave a few hundred million to SpaceX to help with R&D costs.

      "Heavily funded by the taxpayer"... LOL.

      May 26, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  34. Aristocles

    The private sector really is more efficient at a lot of tasks, especially when there is money to be made. Given how fast these companies are moving, they will get us into space before NASA finishes its Space Launch System. They're making NASA look like the Post Office next to UPS and FedEx.

    May 25, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Independent from NH

      That actually made me laugh out loud. Well said!

      May 25, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Mark

      Sure, that may be true, but they also pioneered everything we now know – is it really necessary to bash NASA?

      May 25, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Cheese Wonton

      Space X and the others aren't breaking any new technological ground. These firm benefit from NASA and the military doing all the difficult and expensive original RDT&E. Now all they have to do is apply lessons learned. These firms are not taking anything close to the financial or technical risks taken by NASA back in the 16's. If it had been up to private industry in the 1960's it never would have been done. Only when the government is willing to accept the risk will this sort expensive blue sky technology be developed.

      May 25, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • sharoom

      And the private sector here isn't really private. NASA injected $800 million into SpaceX to make this happen. That said, I am fine with NASA supporting private enterprise to take over the orbital logistics. This opens up room for NASA to concentrate on space exploration.

      May 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Val

      Folks, do your research before you speak. Some of you are showing your ignorance. First, SpaceX is to be congratulated for their daring undertaking and accomplishments. That said, they are not a private company doing this on their own. NASA payed them grants to do it – as well as the four others. But that is OK, it just ticks me off to hear people think that it is totally a private endeavor when it is not. Better than NASA???? I won't disagree, but I must point out, NASA cannot do anything efficiently while Congress is acting stupid with funding. Congress keeps changing the rules and what gets funded, then before a program gets completed, they cancel it – NO WONDER IT COSTS SO MUCH!!

      May 26, 2012 at 12:03 am |
      • Edi

        anonimo dijo (uno de tantos):"...El no tiene por que saber como la nasa rectdaa una carta, que material envia y esas cosas. A lo mejor lo engaf1aron. Porque segfan leed el no quereda que la gente sepa esto que le ocurrio y los medios lo presionaron para que lo haga..."Ah! osea el sef1or no sabe que hay formas como se recibe la informacion, o sea que hay que aceptar pies juntillas que la NASA le mando esa supesta carta...ES SENTIDO COMUN, sef1or anonimo...Imagine que el dia de maf1ana, le llega a usted una carta de su banco diciendole que les debe un dinero y que debe depositar inmediatamente en una cuenta determianda por que si no le encarcelan y como vien en papel membretado LO CREE y hace el deposito... Jaja ja, es usted candidato a una estafa.Asi esta haciendo el sef1or Garnier, haciendo creer a todos una supuesta carta de la NASA nada mas por que viene en ese papel membretado y Voila! a los medios.

        September 13, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • Craig

      There is certainly a degree of truth in what you say. However, in a larger picture, all of us benefit from those who came before. We all, for example, owe something to the first proto-human who figured out that concept of the wheel. That doesn't mean our "improvements" or "refinements" don't have value, just that we live in a continuum.

      What these private companies are doing benefits from all NASA had to learn or discover, often at the expense of hitting walls or discovering dead ends. While it may be true that "private can do it cheaper," part of that will forever be because "somebody went there before." Materials and methods that weren't available anywhere are now commonplace. Pop in a copy of Apollo 13 and take a look at the "computer" in the space-craft. There's a million times more capability in your watch or telephone these days. NASA did "boldly go where no man has gone before" in in doing so, they made this all possible. This transition is important...and necessary, but it's certainly not a time to complain. Remember when VCR's cost $1000. Yeah, that's called progress.

      May 26, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Joel

      I'll never understand why the Post Office is the model of inefficiency. For 45 cents, they can get a handwritten letter from my house to Nowhere, Wyoming in 3 days. That's not too shabby.

      May 26, 2012 at 12:24 am |
      • Neil

        No, It costs you 45 cents, but it costs the post office more than that to actually deliver it. This is why they are losing money every year.

        May 26, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • FactChecker

      I wonder how much real study has gone into the claimed efficiency of private companies. Does the efficiency calculation include the 60% startup business failure rate? Does it include the fraud? I think the efficiency is an urban myth. There are entire industries where you have to watch them like a hawk or they will rob you blind - roofers, home repair, car maintanance, etc. Every time I really study how a job should be done, I find out that the private company man cut every corner and did it wrong. Then I have to decide if it is worth ripping it out and doing it myself.

      May 26, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • FactChecker

      For about the same amount of money, Mars rovers were sent to Mars, did a soft landing, and operated for over 6 years.

      May 26, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  35. Sue Mutter

    Congratulations SpaceX from Kentucky! Love my SpaceX jacket!

    May 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  36. denverboy

    With hope we will move into a government /private exploration of space..Hey it's why America is here...Space-X is going to come out with there HEAVY version...almost as powerful as the Satrun V Rocket and with that we could be going back to the Moon for REAL R&D...We can test rocket engins on the moon that simply cannot be tested on Earth....and that Could raly set the stage for getting outta the kiddie pool and into some deep water....Mars..Jovian Moons //Satuen who knows we might even leave our solar system some day.. Yet none of this will happen as long as Short term Reps have there short term vison set on the SHORT TERM..We need real thinkers and dreamers that can make SPACE PAY and pay big.. Unlimited engery clean...and just sittin on the surface of the MOON...OUR MOON...a semi trailer load enoug to power America for ten years..EVERYTHING..theres enough Radiation in GEO Sationary orbit to harness and a soalr panel 180 feet wide by 2000 feet long could power almost our entire planet...FREE AND CLEAN.....FOREVER....
    Now thoes are money makers...al we need is THE WILL and VISION and of course A LONG TERM GOAL..Not goals that are Election cycle short term and mostly doomed to fail because they dont have any depth to them...
    Private space..Better Cheaper and not totaly subsidised..Once they get there legs they will be powering our homes Business...Cars....what ever...all we have to do is not Blow up our home...Earth

    May 25, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • minhajarifin

      That is well said Denver. The potential is too exciting to ignore. I appreciate your vision. I'm with you man. I hope it happens.

      May 25, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  37. Mike

    Elon Musk, a son of South Africa....we are proud of you!

    May 25, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  38. 60minuteman

    To Boldly go where no Corporate Personhood has gone before.

    May 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  39. andrewr770

    It's about time that American innovation took charge of our space program, since NASA has proven itself woefully incapable of leveraging our ingenuity into excellence in space over the last several decades. Now, if NASA would show some wisdom and buy some of these space vehicles for its own use, then the government could continue R&D and scientific space flights without worrying about commercial needs. The government has failed in space, but private enterprise is taking the lead. If that's not proof positive that the government needs to step aside in most industries, then I'm not sure what is.

    May 25, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • SpaceD

      It is obvious that you know nothing about what NASA is doing. If NASA didn't have a lab floating in space (ISS) there would be nothing for SpaceX or anybody to go to. Abviously you are an ignorant and have no information on what NASA is currently working on or what NASA has done in the past for you and the world. Go study and read about it first before you talk about something that you have no clue about!!!

      May 25, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Persason

      Lol just lol....

      Okay listen up you know nothing about NASA. It was the plan to hire private companies to fly up to ISS because NASA is focusing on other areas atm... Do your homework first..

      Republicans......

      May 25, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • PeterM

      Hey SpaceD, NASA has done a lot of good stuff but after the Apollo program it lost its way as far as human space flight was concerned. The "reusable" shuttle became a huge white elephant at $450m per flight. Entrepreneurs who wanted to enter the launch business in the 1980s couldn't get financial backing because NASA wasn't buying anything. That has finally changed and I can get excited again about America's prospects in space.

      May 25, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
      • Val

        Peter (and all the other who despair against NASA), yes, there are problems, we all seem to complain about it. But, be careful where you place the blame.

        You say NASA lost its way after the Apollo missions – the real blame should be that NASA was not done and would have continued on – CONGRESS PULLED THE PLUG

        The shuttle did not end up how NASA wanted it. Congress cut funding, cut it again, NASA goes and redesigns the shuttle, congress cuts more funding, finally we get a shuttle that was way short of being what NASA had envisioned.

        So, don't go blaming NASA when they did the best they could with the funding they got. Imagine yourself going to the grocery store with my $200. Then, when you get about halfway through, I tell you that I have to take $120 back leaving you with $80. Do you think you could come home with groceries without the wife/hubby complaining that you did not do a good shop selecting your grocery items? NASA is constantly kicked around and have to go and revise their plans.

        May 26, 2012 at 12:22 am |
      • FredInIT

        PeterM,

        I think you should go research what NASA really wanted for the shuttle. It isn't what they ended up with. Much of the overbloat of the design were due to DoD requirements. The original shuttle was much slimmer, nimble, lighter, and significantly more cost effective than the pork-barrel thing that was ultimately designed. Research the shuttle flight records – there are a number of DoD only launches that took place. In short, the Shuttle was a military vehicle managed and maintained by civilian NASA.

        The one thing that really irks me is where the four remaining Shuttles were deployed... three on the east coast, one on the west cost... nothing in the central US for 1,200 miles. If that doesn't stink of politics I don't know what does.

        Regardless... Elon, et al., Been following you guys for years. Congrats on an extremely successful launch and dock. May the rest of the mission go as smooth!

        May 26, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  40. ComeOnMan9

    Forgive my obvious ignorance but oh so when yall spending your money, you can do it fast and safely. That aint right and I aint mad at you. Godspeed.

    May 25, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  41. sinbad

    Oh come on private space companies are not a new thing Arianespace SA is a French company founded in 1980 was the world's first commercial space transportation company.

    They have launched over 200 satellites, come on guys this is 30 years behind the times.

    May 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • BThorn

      Arianespace has probably never turned a profit and is as heavily subsidized as the U.S. Atlas and Delta. Their rockets were developed on government money and with government design influence. The only money Falcon has received from the government was for launch contracts, not for developing Falcon, which SpaceX did on its own. (Dragon is a different story.)

      May 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  42. RS

    This is huge. It's the future in space we have so long been denied.

    Nasa has "grown" from a can-do place to a pork distributor. It's not a good thing.

    SpaceX spent about $600 million TOTAL to develop the engines, booster and Dragon capsule over the last 7 years.
    That's about $90 million per year.

    In contrast, NASA pays Boeing $1.2 BILLION per year to develop the Orion/ Multipurpose Crew Vehicle which began life at the exact same time as Dragon, yet is still years from flying. Nasa spends over $50 million per year just to manage the Boeing contract. And another $37 million to audit the Nasa managers managing the Boeing managers who manage the major contractors who manage the subcontractors who manage other subcontractors who actually do the work.

    SpaceX did virtually all the work in-house. Boeing has divided contracts for Crew over 28 states to insure maximum pork potential.

    Contrast and compare a company driven by passion, and one driven by its long membership in the government industrial complex.

    May 25, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • PeterM

      I agree, this is a perfect example of government waste. Hopefully we can move forward (and upwards!) from here...

      May 25, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
      • PeterM

        To be clear, I'm saying NASA/Boeing is the perfect example of waste.

        May 25, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • TX Dad

      Be sure to get correct information before you post.
      Boeing has little to do with CEV/MPCV/Orion. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for CEV/MPCV/Orion. Boeing lost the contract and is developing thier own CST-100 based on their proposed vehicle for CEV.

      Boeing is more involved with Ares/SLS.

      May 25, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • sharoom

      NASA contributed $800 million to SpaceX.

      May 26, 2012 at 12:06 am |
      • Val

        Peter, RS, did you see this???? Government (NASA to be exacpt) paid these private companies?? Wow, was that a waste too??

        May 26, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  43. Andy

    The comment by Warren about being old hit me when I read it. I'm now there too. I remember Oct 4, 1957 (Sputnik's launch) like yesterday and what an exciting ride it has been since then ! (not to belittle the inevitable setbacks and tragedies). Sure, we were all promised eventual vacations in orbit or on the Moon or Mars back then (I'm still ticked that that's not going to happen for me), BUT then I'm thankful to have seen all that has happened in space since then, both manned and unmanned, with the my favourite times being the Moon landings ('60's & 70's) and the discoveries made about many planets and moons in the Solar System during the Grand Tour days in the 1980"s. Like Warren, I wish I could be around for the next 55 years advances that are bound to take place by many countries and agencies. Congrats to SpaceX and, along with all the other entrepreneurs out there, enjoy your future rides !

    May 25, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • midas welby

      Thanks Andy for a post that is reasonable and factual. So much beligerence out there these days. I too lament the long period of stagnation in space-related progress that will probably cost me the chance to experience space travel. But old man Harrison finally made it happen in Heinlein's "Man Who Sold the Moon". Maybe us geezers still have a slim chance!

      May 26, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  44. Rich

    What about XCOR?

    May 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  45. power4things

    Using public-built launch facilities, KSC employees and NASA money, this is about as "private" as the Manhatten Project. SpaceX gets their pork barrel.

    May 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • wavejump1100

      they will never be profitable if they have to start from scratch. i think its a great thing for the government to help industry. better that than let the chinese or russians control the industry. NASA already has the facilities and the technology why not help an american industry develop? when they become profitable NASA can lease them the space. its naive to think that other countries dont prop up their industries. we have to compete with these countries so why not give american companies all the help we can.

      May 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • BThorn

      Airlines use FAA support at airports. Does that mean Delta is not a private company?

      May 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Wut

      Its called a public-private transition, its happened countless times before. Be patient.

      May 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  46. Ted Ward

    Obviously the person writing this article hasn't proofread it. Firstly, the photo shown is pretty but it's not the Spacex vehicle which has triumphed today. Secondly the one shown is mentioned in the article as the "Dream Catcher". Nope. It's the "Dream Chaser" . Try getting some facts correct, thank you. The one thing correct is that it really may just be the beginning of a new era of commercial space vehicles. But bear in mind, all of these are underwritten in part by Nasa money to the tune of initially, 800 million dollars this year alone, and already congress has renegged on that and cut it down to 500 million, after already cancelling the Ares program, you know, the one that congress told Nasa to develop and build after Nasa agreed to retire the Shuttles. So the shuttles get retired and congress and the administration cut the Ares program out. Honestly, Nasa can't get anything built since their congressional funding and is unreliable and fickle and the congress micromanages and disses and demeans anything with any real vision and ambition. Congress treats the realit possibility of moon bases as ridiculous and laughable, but then expects us to overlook their complete mismanagement and neglect of the federal budget, and the financial sector and the disappearance of trillions of dollars. At least with NASA you can see where the money is going and its a great a valuable investment, and it keeps really smart people doing really great things.

    May 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • thompatterson

      Good "catch," Ted, thanks! The Dream Chaser reference has been fixed! By the way, we chose to use an image of Dream Chaser because the focus of this piece is not about SpaceX or Dragon - but about other commercial space vehicles which are in development. Thank you for reading the post! Best, Thom

      May 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Ed

      NASA has created a lot of its own problems by over the years becoming just another another government agency that that has wasted money, has hugh cost overruns and makes everything more complicated and expensive then it should be. The cost of just one acutal Aries test launch (the vehicle+launch costs and not counting the billions in research and planning) was one billion dollars. The total cost spent to date for the whole of Space X over 10 years which was starting from scratch to what it is today. Space X has 1800 employees which includes those that build 85% of everything in-house. NASA has over 2000 civil service employees at just KSC which currently has no NASA vehicle to launch. Gives you an idea why Space X can make space flight cheaper while NASA never could.

      May 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
      • "J" (John)

        And, to be fair, NASA probably has to go through US Defense money channels where SpaceX doesn't. That might be where the problem is (and was), even if the agency is listed as a civilian one. But you have some very interesting and well-said points!

        May 25, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • GaryR

      Well said.

      May 25, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  47. toolmantim

    congratulations to space x and Elon Musk. now, if your still in a good mood, I wouldn't mind if you gave me one of your tesla roadsters to drive around!!

    May 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  48. Sai

    I think many people missed the point of retiring the space shuttle and keep insisting that US space program is lagging. When the last shuttle flight was completed, private enterprises are taking over the shuttle's roles. How many countries have the confidence and technology to engage in private space enterprise? Perhaps the closest is the EU and not even the Russian has a viable space industry. The Chinese sent a guy up into space and had him back with a nosebleed. An industry moving from being government dominated to being more privately owned is a clear sign of its maturity and confidence. US has never lag in space exploration and development, considering the number of probes, rockets, satellites being used every year. NASA and gov should always be the ones that blaze the trails, take the most risks and let the private industry do what it does best, make things efficient and reducing cost.

    May 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  49. mordrud

    "we chose to go the ISS in this decade and do the other things NOT because it is easy but because it could be profitable"
    I like it. Go entrepreneurial spirit!

    May 25, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  50. themightythor1212

    its a Damn Shame you dont have SpaceX as the Picture, since they are the star of the day today, lets give them their due, DreamChaser will have their day soon. Congrats SpaceX thanks for bringing bak the excitement to space travel!

    May 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Chuk

      theMightyThor1212, you're so right. I totally agree with you! Maybe they just want to show a cool picture – you know, form over function. SpaceX deserves a LOT of credit for pulling this off first.

      May 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
      • Australopithecus Africanus

        Yes – but what is cool about a thing with wings it will never use to get to space or fly around once there. CNN really misses the point of today in a big way – today was a gamechanger – got a pic of the beautiful gamechanger – or even better – a pic of the Dragon landing with its super-draco's ?

        May 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
      • manuelredondo

        human kind on its best...

        May 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Darth Vader

      A photo of an Imperial Star Destroyer would have been nice.

      Love
      Darth

      May 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  51. Sue

    Congrats SpaceX & Elon Musk!

    May 25, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  52. Jason

    FYI The SNC craft is named Dream Chaser, not Dream Catcher.

    It is a nice looking spacecraft and I hope to see it fly soon. I do, however, tend to agree with Elon Musk's statement that "wings are dead weight in space". Ultimately it is about making access to space cheaper, and if a capsule does that better and safer, then it wins and is not outdated tech like many suggest.

    May 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Brian Berry(calmchessplayer)

      sometimes to get a desire result you must start from the beginning

      –calmchess

      May 25, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  53. Melinda

    CONGRATULATIONS SPACEX! CNN -> HOW ABOUT SPENDING MUCH DESERVED PRESS TIME ON THE AMAZING ACCOMPLISHMENT OF SPACEX, ELON MUSK, AND ALL THE SPACEX EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE MADE THIS HAPPEN! THEIR EFFORTS, TIRELESS PURSUIT OF THE DREAM, AND GREAT PRIDE IN THEIR HARD WORK IS VERY ADMIRABLE!

    May 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Sara

      Completely Agree!!!

      May 26, 2012 at 2:49 am |
  54. bobby frank-dallas, texas

    i want to go!

    May 25, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  55. The Truth

    The dream catcher concept is what NASA should be exploring, not returning to the capsule system.
    The shuttle was a quantum leap in space craft technology. Its downside was it was made to do everything, so by necessity it had to be big which made it expensive to launch and maintain. Strip the shuttle down to just the crew area, engines and support systems you have what the dream catcher looks like. With the ability to keep permanent space stations in orbit we don't need the 18 wheeler anymore, just a basic sedan will do nicely. Plus long duration space travel out of earth orbit should have the "luxuries" of the shuttle cabin not going back to spam in a can.

    May 25, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • SB

      Literally nothing you just said is correct. You're one of those people who look at the capsule shape and your brain sais "hurr durr Apollo". There are excellent reasons for using a capsule, and excellent reasons for not having wings. I suggest you better yourself by reading up on the subject before posting any more "in depth" comments.

      May 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
      • SB

        says*

        May 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
      • Hurr Durr

        Did someone call my name?

        May 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • TH

      The blueprint for the Dream Chaser literally came from NASA. It was a shelved project from a couple of decades ago.

      May 25, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
      • Joe

        You are correct. If memory serves me right, I believe Congress in their infinite wisdom, didn't fund it. I believe NASA went so far as to build a full size version for glide testing. So, now, years later, NASA is giving the design and engineering away along with tens of millions of dollars to Bezos to build the thing.

        May 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
      • Fritz

        That little winged craft looks like that 'dynasoar' vehicle I recall seeing in grade school textbooks.

        May 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
      • BThorn

        Dream Chaser is based on the NASA HL-20, which in turn was based on Russia's BOR-4 test vehicles of the 80s.

        May 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Redeye Dog

      The next phase of space exploration cannot and will not be a "one system" solution like the Dream Chaser (Incorrectly cited by CNN as the Dream Catcher). The shuttle in all its glory was a magnificent step forward and served us well. However, the Dream Chaser will only be a taxi for our astronauts. It is unknown if the craft will be able to carry any resupply payload of any kind.

      The Space X Dragon carried about 1000lbs of supplies to the ISS on its maiden voyage. If you go by what Space X has published on the Dragon capabilities, it only has a 13,200 "Up Mass" capability which implies this includes the weight of the craft itself. That makes it a very light spacecraft (the part which actually makes it to space).

      In contrast, the shuttle Endeavor had a "payload" capability of 55,000lbs on each shot up to the space station and they made sure it was full each time. When you compare that to the Russian Soyuz capsule with a maximum payload of 8624 including cosmonauts/astronauts, you can see that none of the private solutions come anywhere near what the shuttle provided.

      The shuttle also had that giant cargo dimension to it and proved capable of delivering "huge" systems into orbit with minimal assembly, like the Hubble Space Telescope. There is nothing in the private sector which can duplicate this feat. None the less, the Dragon X is a great step forward in space entrepreneurship.

      In the end, more spacecrafts will spur more investors and space travel space commerce will ultimately become a private enterprises by themselves. One thing for sure, we'll need much, much more payload capability to resupply the ISS and future projects like moon colonies and/or missions to Mars.

      May 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  56. Tomas Rybar

    there was so much ill will against US in oversees press 1 month ago; most of it about how far behind is US space program ... well, it seems we've done it again ... american enterprise comes to the rescue and we are light years ahead ... and no one had a clue ... i love it

    May 25, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • bjarki1

      well said Tomas, not only against the space program, against the economy too. They will see what kind of economy the future will dominate. And they also will see how far behind the European Space industry is.. The only thing who is going wrong is: Obama is not able to see the " spirit " of space programs and for what it´s really worth to spend money . He is a guy without visions for the real big things, we have to do. Maybe only for a short rest-time.

      May 25, 2012 at 11:45 am |
      • Tomas Rybar

        he is also the guy who is going to retire, if I can help it in November ... I wish him well though ... somewhere else!

        May 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
      • Bob

        Ummm...Obama is the guy pushing for private enterprise to take over.

        May 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
      • josh101

        Yes, uhmmm, like Bob said... Obama actually advocated this approach and implemented policies to support the transfer to commercial spaceflights...

        May 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
      • Joe

        It's the Obama administration that is pushing the privatization of low orbit private enterprise. It's Congress that keeps slashing NASA's budget over the last decade.

        May 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
      • Joe

        Do you even realize that it is NASA who is funding these commercial start-ups, and providing them with technology, designs, and facilities to help them literally get off the launch pad?

        May 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
      • aaab

        NASA is transitioning to the role of mapping the universe. They map it out for the private companies and let them decide where to go and how. Privatizing the space industry started with the Commercial Space Launch Act put into place by Regan and continued under Bush Sr with the Launch Service Purchase Act. I would say that most presidents have seen the economical value of the privatization of the space industry.

        May 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • icowrich

      I wouldn't say we're ahead. We can't do anything the Russians can't do. This is a step in the right direction, though.

      May 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  57. brian

    I can't wait until Planetary Resources starts mining asteroids!

    May 25, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  58. RK

    Kudo's to SpaceX!! Great Accomplishment.

    Hopefully all these private companies will contribute appropriately to the society by paying more than what is minimal taxes, by having educational programs for kids, and other social benefits. After all they are able to do this due to all the taxpayer money spent in the last 6 decades!!

    May 25, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  59. Wobbles

    Congratulations. And, yes, folks–it really is rocket science. Science, a subject about which 50% of the U.S. citizenry have not a clue.

    May 25, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Joe Schmoe

      Actually 90% of American citizens have no clue about how any of this technology works.

      May 25, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
      • Warren

        I'm sure I am in that 90%...but I don't care. It would be great if I had a clue of how it all works...but the thing I DO know is that I'm having a blast watching the results of this space technology. I wish all these entrepreneurs success.

        I just wish I wasn't so stinkin' old and would be able to stick around for the next 50 spage age years or more (maybe that Methuselah Foundation will get their act together and I can, huh).

        May 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  60. Alan Smithee

    "And a fourth private firm called Orbital Sciences Corp. is planning its first launch later in the year."

    Uh, Orbital has been building and launching for a quarter century. It's the Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft that are new.

    May 25, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Alan Smithee

      I should add – congratulations to SpaceX.

      May 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • thompatterson

      Hi! Thanks for reading the post, sir. You're correct of course about Orbitial Science's long experience in the industry, but the context of the reference is about launching to the ISS. Orbital's first launch associated with that goal will be in the third quarter of this year, according to its website. I was hoping the link to Orbital's Anteres information which I provided made that clear. However, thanks for clarifying that point. It's important. And thank you again for reading the post! By the way, with a moniker like Alan Smithee, you must be a movie fan. You may know that commercial space exploration plays a role in the upcoming science fiction film "Prometheus." Best, Thom

      May 25, 2012 at 11:23 am |
      • Alan Smithee

        All clear in context... nice article, Thom.

        May 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  61. james

    I guess NASA must have given them the liquid hydrogen engines..

    May 25, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Joe

      All the commercial companies rely heavily on NASA technology, designs, and funding and a healthy dose of ex-NASA employees.

      May 25, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Australopithecus Africanus

      And the Russians probably gave Orbital their engines . . . .

      May 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm |

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