Space Inflection Point

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully lifted the company’s Dragon robotic spacecraft into orbit from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., on May 22, according to Air Force and company officials. Dragon will now attempt the first-ever rendezvous of a commercial spacecraft with the International Space Station to deliver cargo, retrieve other cargo, and then return to Earth. “This mission heralds the dawn of a new era of space exploration, one in which there is a significant commercial space element. It is like the advent of the Internet in the mid-1990s when commercial companies entered what was originally a government endeavor,” said SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk at a press conference after the launch, according to a company release. He added, “I think we’re at a similar inflection point for space.” NASA officials are expected to decide on May 25 if they will allow Dragon to attempt berthing with the space station. Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton, 45th Space Wing commander, who served as the launch decision authority for the mission, praised SpaceX and NASA and the airmen and other industry partners “involved in making this launch a success.” (Includes Patrick release)