Speaking of SpaceX, NASA just announced two HUGE awards for private contractors: $1.9 billion to Orbital Sciences, and $1.6 billion to SpaceX!
Wow. These contracts are for lifting supplies to the International Space Station, and are for at least 20 tons of uploaded mass each (Orbital is required to have 8 launches, and SpaceX 12). SpaceX can do that pretty easily with their new Falcon 9 (assuming all goes well with their maiden voyage of the new rocket sometime in 2009), which can lift 12 tons per launch. According to NASA, these two companies can provide all the ISS needs for supplies during the era between the Shuttle and Constellation, roughly 2010 through 2015. The contracts are good through 2016.
I’ll note that here is where government directly affects the private sector. That’s a lot of cash going to people who will use it to grow their industry, hire more highly-trained people, and maybe, just maybe, open up space to all of us in the coming years.
Very cool, and my congratulations to both companies!