Well, well. After some delays and an aborted attempt a few days ago, it appears that the SpaceX "test" flight to get a bit of cargo into orbit and aimed at the International Space Station has worked according to plan
-- and we're now a step closer to a private space program (photo from NASA):
The SpaceX folks webcast the whole thing
from its website (hopefully, they'll post the video for people to rewatch -- as of right now there's nothing). The White House immediately offered its congratulations
for "the potential of a new era in American spaceflight..." powered by the private sector.
This is the second time that SpaceX has gotten this far
, but rather than just orbiting the earth a couple times, the current mission goal is to have the Dragon capsule actually dock with the International Space Station (and deliver some food). The actual docking process is a bit complex, apparently, so there are still some worries. However, things certainly seem to be progressing.
And, of course, this is just one of many stepping stones towards actually offering private manned
spaceflight, which goes beyond just touching the edges of space, but actually into orbit. Either way, it's an important milestone along the way.