April 30, 2012: The day SpaceX will boldly go where no corporation has gone before.
It could be one small step for man, but a giant leap for the space industry’s bottom line. SpaceX, the space transport company founded by PayPal billionaire Elon Musk, is set to launch a payload that will dock with the International Space Station, the first time a private company will have done so. NASA officials are optimistic that SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will blast off on April 30, carrying 521 kilograms of cargo to the station before returning back to Earth with 660 kg of material. If the craft is successful, it will mark a significant milestone for the viability of private space companies ferrying both cargo and people to and from our orbit. If it’s not, well, then Mr. Musk will probably lose a fair bit of dough and the whole private space industry could face years of trying to restore its credibility – years during which we’d be entirely reliant upon the Russians to get astronauts to and from the space station. No pressure whatsoever, SpaceX!