The world’s first private rocket is on its way to the International Space Station.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off early Tuesday morning on an unmanned supply mission. If the mission goes well, it could change space travel forever, marking the start of what could be a new era in American spaceflight. You could think of the launch as the first audition for SpaceX, one of the private companies hoping to become NASA’s taxi to the space station. The launch had been scheduled for this past Saturday, but a half-second before liftoff, computers detected high pressure in the center engine’s chamber and aborted the mission. Engineers say they fixed a faulty valve, and SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is now on its way. This time, the astonishing but familiar sight of a rocket launching skywards, fire curling underneath, was unlike anything seen before.