Private Company Launches Payload into Space

The company SpaceX has been developing and launching rockets for a few years. But it was only today that the company launched its first commercial payload into orbit:

The launching was the first of three financed by NASA under its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, an initiative intended to encourage development of private-sector rockets to deliver cargo to the International Space Station after the space shuttle is retired next year.

SpaceX has a $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA to provide 12 cargo flights to the station for delivery of more than 44,000 pounds of equipment and supplies. The contract may be expanded to cover additional flights, boosting its value to some $3.1 billion.

Link via Geekosystem | Photo: SpaceX

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Actually, they launched a payload into space back in 2009 with a Falcon 1 rocket. The real news here is that this payload was a human-rated capsule, and that it re-entered the atmosphere, splashing back down after orbiting. Truly a huge step for the private space industry, and egg in the face of all those that said phasing out the space shuttle would mean the end of the US space program.
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