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Opinion
Michael R. Strain

The Space Business Is About to Get Really Serious

The planned launch of a SpaceX craft this week with two astronauts aboard shows how commerce can restore an historical point of American pride.

Countdown.

Countdown.

Philip Pacheco/Getty Images

Wednesday is looking like a watershed moment in history. The scheduled afternoon launch of a SpaceX Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 4:33 p.m. would mark the first time a privately owned vehicle takes astronauts into orbit.

Elon Musk, the billionaire space entrepreneur and chief executive of Tesla Inc., founded SpaceX in 2002. If the launch succeeds — bad weather could push it to Saturday — it would be the company’s crowning achievement to date. Musk’s hope is to enable the colonization of Mars. Delivering two astronauts to the International Space Station suggests that his grand ambition might be more than a pipe dream.