Spacex Dragon Capsule Artist Depiction 5ed67a4a3c55a

SpaceX, Following Historic Launch, Captures the Flag from Boeing

June 2, 2020
Elon Musk's aerospace company beat out Boeing for the first private enterprise to launch humans into orbit.

On May 30, SpaceX became the first private company to launch people into orbit. The launch, and safe delivery on June 1, of two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket put an end to the race between SpaceX and its aerospace rivals, including Boeing. On June 1, the two astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, “captured” an American flag flown on the last Space Shuttle; NASA had put the flag there for whichever private company managed to reach the ISS first.

“Congratulations, SpaceX, you got the flag,” said Hurley, during a news conference aboard the space station.

The launch is the first manned mission launched by the Commercial Crew Program at NASA. Following the retirement of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, NASA astronauts began traveling to space aboard Russian rockets launched from Kazakhstan. The CCP, according to NASA’s website, was founded in order to promote the development of spacecraft by private companies “with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit.”

Boeing is also on the list for future manned launches, the first of which is expected to come early next year. Chris Ferguson, commander of the final Space Shuttle flight and current Boeing employee will be aboard the Boeing Starliner for its first voyage. Ferguson tweeted his congratulations to Hurley May 30, writing he was “proud to yield the title” of “last commander of an American launched spacecraft.”

According to the Associated Press, NASA’s future goals of returning to the Moon in the near term, and a voyage to Mars in the 2030s, will rely on partners in the private sector. SpaceX and Boeing have both received NASA contracts in the billions of dollars in exchange for services and to support private spacecraft development.

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