After the retirement of the space shuttles in 2011 NASA decided to make a significant change in the direction of the space program.
Instead of developing their own spacecraft they would rely on private businesses to develop the spacecraft and NASA would select the best candidates to use to meet their needs.
One of the companies that has risen to this challenge is Space Exploration Technologies Corporation based out of Hawthorn, California.
This company, commonly known as SpaceX, was founded by Elon Musk. Musk is also known for founding PayPal and most recently Tesla Motors.
SpaceX developed the Dragon space capsule and the Falcon 9 rocket to take in to orbit.
After successfully demonstrating the technology, NASA has contracted SpaceX to make 12 cargo deliveries to the International Space Station.
So far SpaceX has made six of these deliveries.
It has always been the intention of SpaceX to develop a crew capsule for manned space missions.
They even put windows in their Dragon capsule which serve no practical function on an unmanned cargo transport space craft.
When you consider that SpaceX planned to eventually develop these capsules for crew transportation the decision makes sense.
SpaceX’s efforts paid off in 2011 when NASA awarded them a contract to develop a human rated space craft. SpaceX has dubbed this model the Dragon V2, and is currently well into the development of the capsule.
Because a lot of the development work was done with the original Dragon capsule, the Dragon V2 could fly in space as early as 2016 and carry its first crew in 2017.
SpaceX made another historic step forward on December 21, 2015 when it successfully landed a Falcon 9 rocket boaster back on Earth intact.
SpaceX believes the ability to reuse their rocket boosters will dramatically reduce the cost of space flight.
In addition to being the secretary of the Northern Michigan Astronomy Club the Rev. Aaron Rieder is the Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Cheboygan.