Is the Private Era in Space Officially Upon Us?

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The United States, Russia, Japan, the European Union, and SpaceX: what do they all have in common? If all goes smoothly over the next few days, each entity will have successfully, and at some point historically brought a vessel to the International Space Station.

Yesterday, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and its unmanned Dragon capsule lifted off en route to the ISS, marking the first ever flight for a commercial spacecraft bound for the space station. The flight could open up a new, private, entrepreneurial era in space.

But what, exactly, is the business of space? And what does the business model look like?

Michael Lopez-Alegria is a former NASA astronaut and International Space Station commander. He is currently the president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, a commercial space advocacy group. Miles O’Brien is a science correspondent for PBS NewsHour. He's covered space issues for more than 20 years.