SpaceX and NASA are launching astronauts—and a new orbital economy?

The United States will make its return to human spaceflight when Elon Musk’s SpaceX attempts to fly two astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, onboard its crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) on May 27.

What American engineers are about to do—debut a new spacecraft that can carry humans off this planet and into orbit—has only been attempted eight times in history.

What makes this different, then? Strip away the national symbolism surrounding today’s launch—no easy task—and you’re left with the first human carrying spacecraft designed by a private company and, no coincidence, it’s perhaps the cheapest ever made.

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