The Dragon capsule therefore becomes the first privately owned space vehicle to reach the ISS. This morning the astronauts on the space station opened the capsule and entered it, conducted a quick inspection and found no sign of any problems with the interior, and indeed reported that the capsule had that familiar “new car smell.” So far, SpaceX’s Falcon rocket and its Dragon capsule have performed flawlessly — reaching orbit, conducting the maneuvering tests that showed that the capsule could safely be brought near the ISS, and then ultimately delivering the payload.
We now have a private company with the technology and human know-how to put a vehicle into space and haul cargo to an orbiting destination. The Dragon’s successful delivery is a huge step forward toward increased exploration and development of space, in an era where commercial entities will bear an increasingly significant part of the cost — and, not incidentally, will look to reap profit from their investments. With SpaceX leading the way, other companies will not be far behind.