Falcon 9 Aims For the Sky
75 years ago January 12, 1934 a fleet of six Navy P2Y-1 flying boats made a nonstop flight from San Francisco to Hawaii. The crossing took 24 hours and 19 minutes. In 1935 Pan American introduced the famous China Clippers on regular flights across the Pacific. Today we take flight Hawaii to the mainland for granted. Will flight into Space someday become as routine?
Saturday SpaceX's Falcon 9 was hoisted into the vertical at Cape Canaveral. A launch is coming soon. Last September, on the fourth attempt, the smaller Falcon 1 finally reached orbit. After winning a COTS contract for resupplying ISS, SpaceX may be America's best hope for closing the "Gap" in human spaceflight.
Events in this small world depend on one another. If NASA keeps reaching outward, routine flight to LEO can be left to commercial operators. SpaceX needs the COTS contract to justify the expense of developing boosters. If SpaceX is successful, the Falcon will have other customes. Bigelow's orbital habitats will need a vehicle like Falcon 9 to deliver guests. If everything comes together, the dream of commercial flight to Space will finally come true.