By Rebecca Shlien--
A historic day for American space flight. For the first time, a private company docked a spacecraft to the International Space Station. The California-based SpaceX sent the un-manned rocket and capsule into space. This successful mission has some real implications for the Rocket City.
When the U.S. Government cut NASA's shuttle program, hundreds of Rocket City NASA jobs were slashed along with it. Andrew Sutinen founded Huntsville Space Professionals to help those former employees, and now, he feels SpaceX's achievement will be a big boost for Huntsville's big industry.
Sutinen explains, “It'll take some time, but the city of Huntsville is the nexus, it is the focal point for space research and space exploration in the United States, so at least these private companies will realize this is the place to start for them to procure, obtain their talent."
In addition to helping other private companies succeed, SpaceX's 'mission accomplished' could help Huntsville researchers who depend on getting to the space station. This is mainly because launching a payload with a private American company is cheaper and easier than through Russia, the only current alternative.
Huntsville Space Professionals Communications Director Chris McLemore says, "Now that they have a vehicle to do that, they'll be more likely to participate and carry their experiments to space."
Now that NASA has signed a 12-launch contract with Space X, McLemore feels privatized space is here to stay. To him, this means that the government agency can concentrate on exploring deeper space. He says, "I think that NASA can actually focus its effort on doing cooler things: going to asteroids, exploring deep space, because now low earth orbit, at least for today, has been shown that it's covered."
The group Huntsville Space Professionals plans to bring SpaceX to Huntsville within the next few months to discuss privatized space flight, and how the company could collaborate with Rocket City space professionals in the future.