Popular Science calls Falcon 9 “The First Astronaut-Worthy Private Rocket In Orbit” and goes on to explain, “When NASA retires the space shuttle next year, the only American-owned option the U.S. government will have for getting cargo to the International Space Station is to ride with a private spaceflight company. Such an arrangement became viable in June, when SpaceX’s Falcon 9—a 180-foot, kerosene-and-liquid-oxygen-fueled rocket capable of delivering six metric tons of cargo or seven astronauts to orbit—made its maiden voyage to space.”
“For 23 years, Popular Science has honored the innovations that surprise and amaze us ? those that make a positive impact on our world today and challenge our views of what’s possible in the future,” said Mark Jannot, Editor-in-Chief of Popular Science. “The Best of What’s New Award is the magazine’s top honor, and the 100 winners ? chosen from among thousands of entrants ? represent the highest level of achievement in their fields.”
SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles and spacecraft that will increase reliability and performance of space transportation, while ultimately reducing costs by a factor of ten. With the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets, SpaceX has a diverse manifest of launches to deliver commercial satellites to orbit. After the Space Shuttle retires, the Falcon 9 and SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will start carrying cargo, including live plants and animals, to and from the International Space Station for NASA. Falcon 9 and Dragon were developed to one day carry astronauts.