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NEW YORK (
TheStreet) -- Even though it's not in a galaxy far, far away, people with deep pockets may be able to travel into space without the aid of
NASA in a few years.
SpaceX, the privately held space transportation company run by Elon Musk Tuesday launched its Falcon 9 rocket,
carrying the Dragon capsule into space.
Aside from just being able to successfully launch a rocket -- no small feat -- this marks the first time a private company has sent a spacecraft into space. The rocket plans to dock at the International Space Station (ISS). After the Dragon capsule circles the Earth, it will have to perform a series of tests to determine if it can dock at the ISS.
Musk and SpaceX are trying to disrupt the space industry the same way he has taken on the payments and automobile industries. The company sees an opportunity in tackling space travel as NASA turns its attention and focus towards deep-space missions to land probes on asteroids and Mars.
Musk, who will turn 42 in June, is the CEO and Product Architect of
Tesla Motors(TSLA - Get Report). He also co-founded
PayPal which was later sold to
eBay(EBAY - Get Report).
The world is watching with SpaceX being one of the top trending topics on
Twitter following the launch on Tuesday.
The Dragon rocket is designed to carry up to seven astronauts, and may start to bring astronauts into space as soon as 2015, assuming this mission goes as planned. Company officials say missions like this will help gain valuable insight, research and flight experience towards achieving that goal.
SpaceX has already launched the Falcon 9 rocket three successful times, and a lot is riding on this trip. Should this mission prove successful, the company has a contract with NASA valued at $1.6 billion for 12 more missions.
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Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York