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SpaceX (website: is technically short for Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, but no one ever calls it that. Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, SpaceX has designed and built two rockets, the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 (don't ask me what happened to all the numbers in between). Falcon 1 was the first privately-developed vehicle to travel all the way from the ground to low Earth orbit, and its fifth launch successfully carried a Malaysian satellite into low Earth orbit. The Falcon 9, which has had two successful launches so far, is planned to be the first privately-funded rocket to reach geostationary orbit, which is even more impressive. But until they can do it with people on board, they won't be cool enough to win prizes like Scaled Composites did for just breaking the 100-kilometer altitude mark, which is why they're also developing a ballistic capsule called Dragon.

Okay, so the real reason is so they can work for NASA (NewSpace purists take note), delivering people and cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of the new Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. In addition to the typical heat shield, parachutes, padded seats (seven of them) and so forth, Dragon includes a docking collar specially designed to match the one on the U.S. segment of the ISS. It is called the Common Berthing Mechanism though, so with any luck it will eventually become the standard on all privately-operated space stations as well.


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Dolly singh
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Jennifer Saito
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Tyler Cushing
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