Flight Test

Private Spaceship Attempts Launch

The age of privately funded space travel is upon us. PayPal founder Elon Musk’s company SpaceX will launch its Dragon capsule Tuesday, the first privately owned spaceship to attempt to launch into orbit. (Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic attained suborbital flight but did not break free of the atmosphere.) In 2008, SpaceX signed a $1.6 billion contract with NASA, which has mothballed its shuttle, to resupply the International Space Station.