A Brief History
On September 28, 2008, the history of space exploration reached a new milestone when SpaceX, a private company, launched their Falcon 1 unmanned spacecraft, the first private spacecraft launched into orbit.
SpaceX and the business of private space launches is the project of Elon Musk, an entrepreneur worth a staggering $254 billion, making him the richest man in the world. Musk’s SpaceX is so far the premier private space launch company, sending various communication satellites into orbit, giving NASA astronauts a ride into space, and even going to and docking with the International Space Station.
There are currently 4 private companies including SpaceX that deliver cargo to space, another 4 companies including SpaceX that deliver crewed space craft into space, and 6 private companies that offer sub-orbital space flights to the paying public, or that will soon, including Blue Origin, owned by Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world from 2017 to 2021, and of course, SpaceX.
In fact, in 2021, Star Trek’s own Captain Kirk, William Shatner, took a private flight into space for real on a Blue Origin flight!
Question for students (and subscribers): Would you be willing to take a ride on a commercial space flight? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Seedhouse, Erik. SpaceX: Making Commercial Spaceflight a Reality (Springer Praxis Books). Praxis, 2013.
Vance, Ashlee. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. Ecco, 2015.
The featured image in this article, a photograph of Falcon 1 launching from Omelek Island in the Kwajalein Atoll, is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.