Since the beginning of the American space age, launching astronauts into space has been NASA’s domain. But when the space shuttle program ended, things changed. Beginning in 2011, Americans relied on the Russians to get our astronauts to the International Space Station.

Now we are on the cusp of another revolution. Next week, two American astronauts will blast off atop the Falcon 9 rocket, made by Elon Musk’s private company SpaceX. The launch, if successful, will pave the way for the new era of private space tourism.

Also today:

Bijal Trivedi

Science and Technology Editor

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is raised into a vertical position on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A. NASA/Bill Ingalls

SpaceX reaches for milestone in spaceflight – a private company launches astronauts into orbit

Wendy Whitman Cobb, US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies

SpaceX's launch of astronauts to the International Space Station will make it the first private company to launch humans to space. The effort has ramifications for NASA and spaceflight in general.

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