It’s like Grand Central Station lately

JISHOU, HUNAN — It’s been busy in space lately. First the Chinese succeed in their first orbital spacewalk, then businessman Elon Musk sends the Falcon 1 into orbit. The Falcon 1 is the first privately developed and financed rocket to reach orbit. Three previous attempts failed. Musk’s company, SpaceX, hopes to slash costs to low-earth orbit by a third, to approximately US$10 million. It also plans to develop heavier launch vehicles to ferry supplies to the International Space Station, and launch the company’s own astronauts into orbit. Musk is the founder of PayPal, the Internet payment system. He sold it to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion, founding SpaceX the same year. He’s also the chairman of Tesla, an electric-car manufacturer in San Jose, California. (The car is pretty cool: a fast, sleek sports car. Jay Leno took it on a test drive and was impressed.) Here’s a picture of the Falcon 1 rocket nozzle from orbit. The private exploitation of space has so far been all talk and no show. SpaceX has a contract with NASA to supply the ISS once the venerable Space Shuttle fleet is mothballed in 2010, so it will have income — a necessary part ...
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