Explaining Southern California's economy

Facebook v. SpaceX

SpaceX

The Dragon capsule, developed and built by Hawthorne-based SpaceX. On Saturday, it will be launched in the first-ever private mission to service the International Space Station.

Just for the sake of argument, let's say Facebook's highly touted IPO was a flop, priced at $38 a share and closing just 23 cents above that figure. There's another California company that's staging a big event this weekend, and it has nothing to do with Wall Street. 

It may wind up being remembered for far longer.

On Saturday, before dawn at the Kennedy Space Flight center in Florida, the L.A.-area's own SpaceX will launch a rocket tipped with a capsule designed to perform an experimental service mission for the International Space Station. This marks the first time a private company will perform a mission traditionally handled by NASA or a state-run space agency. 

From the Christian Science Monitor:

For NASA, the mission represents the first test of its new stance as a customer for launch services to low-Earth orbit. No longer is it the organization sitting in the driver's seat from rocket design through launch to landing. Once the Falcon 9 leaves the pad, control of the mission shifts to SpaceX's command center at its Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters. Only when Dragon closes in on the space station will NASA have thumbs-up or thumbs-down say in the test flight's next steps.

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