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A New Frontier for Space Travel

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

For the last half-century, space flight has been the domain of the world's superpowers. All that is set to change as soon as Saturday when SpaceX, the private rocket company in Hawthorne, will attempt to launch a spaceship with cargo into orbit and three days later dock it with the International Space Station.

If successful, the mission could mean a major shift in the way the U.S. government handles space exploration. Instead of keeping space travel a closely guarded government function, NASA has already begun hiring privately funded start-up companies for spacecraft development and is moving toward eventually outsourcing NASA space missions.

The upcoming launch is "the first step in the handoff" to private industry, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "Everybody realizes the importance of this mission," he said. "Nobody will be rooting against SpaceX."

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