While SpaceX’s effort to get what a fair shake in competing for some space contracts continues, NASA has awarded the company with a contract for its next crew vehicle. Along with Boeing, SpaceX will fly at least one crewed test flight of its integrated rocket and spacecraft system. When each company demonstrates that their respective systems has met with NASA requirements, it would then fly two to six missions to the International Space Station. The vessels would also serve as lifeboats for the Station.
Each company can also sell use of their systems to other parties. And that is where the fun should begin. The ability of non-governmental entities to send humans to low earth orbit – compared to the suborbital flights soon to be available through Virgin Galactic – should encourage cost reductions and hopefully spur more activity 100 kilometers up.