Not as sexy as mining asteroids, but SpaceX actually Got 'R Done: they delivered 1,000 lbs of supplies to the International Space Station:
This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft, top, after Dragon was grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm and connected to the International Space Station, Friday, May 25, 2012. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval.
The privately bankrolled Dragon capsule arrived at the International Space Station for a historic docking Friday, captured by astronauts wielding a giant robot arm.
It succeeded in making the first commercial delivery into the cosmos.
This is the first time a private company has attempted to send a vessel to the space station, an achievement previously reserved for a small, elite group of government agencies. And it's the first U.S. craft to visit the station since the final shuttle flight last July.
The astronauts wasted no time getting the Dragon capsule into position for actual docking to the space station. The unmanned capsule is carrying 1,000 pounds of supplies on this unprecedented test flight.
On Thursday, the capsule came within 1 1/2 miles of the space station in a practice fly-by. It returned to the neighborhood early Friday so Pettit, along with Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers could capture it with a robot arm. First, the capsule went through a series of stop-and-go demonstrations to prove it was under good operating control.
NASA ordered extra checks of the Dragon's imaging systems as the capsule drew ever closer to the space station, putting the entire operation slightly behind schedule. At one point, SpaceX controllers ordered a retreat because of a problem with on-board tracking sensors.
Given that the Dragon is a brand new type of vehicle and this is a test flight, the space agency insisted on proceeding cautiously.
A collision at orbital speed - 17,500 mph - could prove disastrous for the
SpaceX - officially known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. - is one of several companies vying for the chance to launch Americans from U.S. soil. That ability ended with NASA's final shuttle flight last summer. To get to the space station, NASA astronauts must go through Russia, an expensive and embarrassing situation for the U.S. after a half-century of orbital self-sufficiency.