So now since the Obama administration pretty much shelved American space flight, a private company based in the United States, SpaceX, has become the first commercial space flight company to send its own spacecraft into the heavens.
Billionaire Internet entrepreneur and engineer Elon Musk has decided that he wanted to work to restore American access to space! Gotta love his American "Can Do" spirit! Musk very much wants to achieve space flight/access through private industry and bring human travelers to space by 2015...
SpaceX has just launched the Dragon capsule which is bearing cargo and is on a mission to the International Space Station. The SpaceX mission launch was delayed this past Saturday because of a faulty engine valve in the rocket's main engine which was immediately repaired.
There are no people on board - but there is celebrity cargo!
Sky News reports:
On board the flight are the ashes of actor James Doohan, who played engineer Scotty in Star Trek. He died in 2005.
His remains, along with Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper and more than 300 other hardcore space fans, are to be dispatched into the final frontier.
The remains are held in a container with lipstick-tube-sized canisters and, if all goes as planned, the container should spend the next year or so circling Earth as an orbital space memorial before it is pulled back into the atmosphere and incinerated.
The test flight - which should include a fly-by and berthing with the station in the coming days - aims to show that private industry can restore US access to the ISS after NASA retired its space shuttle fleet last year.
No humans are travelling on the Dragon, but six astronauts are already at the $100bn (£63bn) space lab to help the capsule latch on, to unload supplies and then restock the capsule with cargo to take back to Earth.
... Until now, only the space agencies of Russia, Japan and Europe have been able to send supply ships to the ISS.
The three-decade US shuttle programme, which ferried astronauts and cargo to the research outpost, ended for good in 2011, leaving Russia as the sole taxi to the ISS until private industry comes up with a replacement.
Three cheers for Mr. Musk!
Boldly going where no private company has gone before!