back to article Elon Musk's SpaceX gets unique commercial re-entry licence

SpaceX, the upstart startup rocket company bankrolled by famous PayPal nerdwealth hecamillionaire Elon Musk, has received the first ever commercial licence permitting the re-entry of spacecraft into Earth's atmosphere from orbit. The chit will permit the firm to carry out an imminent test of its new "Dragon" capsule. The …


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  1. thecakeis(not)alie

    Good luck, SpaceX

    The hopes and dreams of spaceward looking humanity rest now with you!

  2. Edwin

    a license for re-entry?

    This is most amusing.

    How does that work? You need a license from the FAA if you want to deorbit above US airspace? Or do you need one to land in the USA?

    "I'm sorry sir, but your license to deorbit has expired. You will need to wait while your new application is considered"

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: a license for re-entry?

      I wondered at that too. Presumably if something falls to earth from space without a license they issue an arrest warrant for Sir Isaac Newton?

      The falling object has no choice in the matter, so its obviously gravity that's operating illegally here.

    2. Mike Flugennock

      Yeah, I was thinking about that, too...

      A _re-entry_license_? Hell, I never knew you needed a license to re-enter the atmosphere. So, did all those Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle crews have to carry it in their glove compartment or something?

      So... what if the Dragon mission had gone off without waiting for the FAA, and the prototype cargo/crew module had re-entered sans license? Would the USAF have scrambled some F15s out of Canaveral to pull it over and give it a ticket?

  3. BozNZ

    You need a licence

    I would have thought a licence to go into space was a licence to come back!

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    The *first* of many I hope.

    But note 2 things.

    While the crewed parts of NASA *seem* to be getting comfortable with the idea of non-NASA rockets and capsules delivering cargo they seem as far away as ever with the *crewed* transfer.

    US readers might like to inquire into weather the crewed option has even been *funded* (I don't think it has so far). Musk estimated a 36 month (3 year) design/build process (including a 6 month problems allowance) once the contract was signed. IIRC it's called something like the Commercial Crewed Transfer Service.

    USians. Without a US vehicle in the near term (part of Ares 1's scrapping was it was expected to ready for *first* flight *after* the ISS was due to be shut down. IMHO a development schedule produced by eunuchs )

    If you want to go to the ISS you will either hand *big* bucks to that nice Mr Putin (or whoever he lets think is in charge there) for the privilege or you *hope* the European or Japanese cargo carriers can be crew rated (BTW Ariane 5 *is* crew rated but no doubt not by NASA standards)

    Funding the crew rated Dragon give a vehicle whose services *could* be sold *globally* (although naturally will only be launched from the US to keep all those nutty ITAR types happy) built by actual US workers to be sold (for an honest profit) to *real* people (rather than just NASA)

    Points you *might* like to make to your local elected representatives. Preferably in a well structured dead tree letter in a not too small typeface that has been spell checked and proof read. Not too many bullet points, italics or bold text please.


    There *is* a 2nd contender. But what the hell has happened to the Orbital Sciences Corps project?

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Why do they need a license from the American government before they can attempt re-entry? Does the government give out licenses to all the owners of retired satellites that come back to earth? What about all the metorites!

  6. Stephen 10

    I'm assuming this is purely PR

    Unless the US FAA has declared ownership of all LEO space. (Which isn't airspace by its very vacuumy nature)

  7. Robert Hill
    Thumb Up

    Used to think Elon was a joke...

    I admit it - I had zero faith in his ability to run something this large, and to generate the right ideas in an area not his area of speciality expertise.

    But BOY was I wrong...SpaceX has just done everything right...the right design decisions, the right fuel decisions (the Saturn V was fueled by a first stage of kerosene too), and finally winning the contract to the ISS. Now this.

    He may just do it - provide REAL orbital capability for the masses.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't care about SpaceX

    I just want a re-entry licencse.

  9. Geoff Campbell

    Next stop....

    ....The Future!

    I for one cannot wait.


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    My girlfriend says if I don't buck my ideas up I can forget any re-rentry licence in the near future.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    were you trying to say rear-entry

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