MarkWhittington quotes a report from Blasting News: Elon Musk and the people at SpaceX are rightly basking in the afterglow of finally landing the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on a drone barge in the Atlantic. The same flight delivered an expandable module built by Bigelow Aerospace to the International Space Station. But, as Ars Technica points out, the launch, landing, and arrival at the space station would not have taken place had it not been for the generosity of NASA. George W. Bush began the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which commercialized first cargo and then crew flights to and from the ISS. Four years later, SpaceX, having endured a number of launch failures of its small Falcon 1 rocket, was running out of cash. They were teetering on the brink of financial ruin as they were trying to develop a much larger and more complex Falcon 9 that would compete with more established launch vehicles such as the Atlas 5 and the Delta 4. Then NASA announced the initial contracts for COTS cargo flights. SpaceXâ(TM)s share was $1.6 billion. The NASA contract saved the company and allowed it to press on with building the Falcon 9 and the Dragon and then successfully compete for the Commercial Crew contracts.
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