Virgin Founder, Sir Richard Branson and SpaceshipOne (SS1) designer, Burt Rutan, unveiled the first commercial spacecraft SpaceShipTwo (SS2) and its mothership WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) to the public at a ceremony in Mojave dessert in California. After the success of SpaceShipOne, that completed the first privately funded human spaceflight on June 21, 2004, and five years of waiting, SpaceShipTwo is now ready to take over 300 registered passengers for their first ride into space.
Early morning on Tuesday, July 14 at 03:35 UTC SpaceX started a new and exciting chapter in spaceflight history by successfully launching Falcon 1, the first ever privately developed rocket, into a stable Earth’s orbit from the SpaceX’s launch pad on Omelek Island, at Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Falcon 1 carries Malaysia’s satellite RazakSAT with a high-resolution camera on board. SpaceX has set another milestone after the success story of the SpaceShipOne which completed the first ever privately funded (sub-orbital) human spaceflight on June 21, 2004.
Founded in 2002, the SpaceX team has now over 700 members who work on developing a family of launch vehicles and spacecrafts intended to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of both manned and unmanned space transportation. With the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 vehicles, SpaceX offers highly reliable/cost-efficient launch capabilities for spacecraft insertion into any orbital altitude and inclination.
Starting in 2010, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will provide Earth–to-LEO transport of pressurized and unpressurized cargo, including resupply to the space station. One of the Detailed Test Objectives (DTO) of the STS-127 mission, delayed for the fifth time due to weather, is the investigation of “DragonEye” – a pulsed laser navigation senser that SpaceX’s Dragon vehilce will use to approach the ISS.