This Saturday, if all goes as planned, the privately owned spaceflight company SpaceX will launch its Dragon capsule into orbit and three days later dock with the International Space Station.
If successful, this will be the first flight of it's kind for a private company. In the past, these missions have been conducted by NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Now NASA relies on privately owned spacecraft to transport astronauts into space and fly delivery missions.
SpaceX signed a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for 12 unmanned delivery missions. The company says their rockets will cut the cost of space deliveries to about one tenth of what it cost on a space shuttle, saving taxpayers money.
The NewsHour recently talked with science correspondent Miles O'Brien about the launch, the engineering challenges and the other private spaceflight companies vying for a chance to deliver cargo and people to low-Earth orbit.
"This is unprecedented. This is part of NASA's effort to change the way it does business," - Miles O' Brien, science correspondent.
1. What is NASA?
2. What is SpaceX?
3. How are NASA and SpaceX different?
1. Why is this being considered a "historic launch" for spaceflight companies?
2. SpaceX hopes to one day transport cargo and humans to Mars. If you could take a private trip to Mars, would you? Why or why not?