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The Historic Flight of the Dragon

Space Explorations Technologies, or Space X, may be a company to watch in the coming years. On Tuesday, May twenty-second, Space X successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The privately-built and owned Dragon spacecraft was loaded with more than five hundred kilograms of supplies for the International Space Station. The Dragon linked up with the space station after a three-day flight.

America's National Aeronautics and Space Administration is moving to private companies for services like bringing supplies to the space station. NASA official Bill Gerstenmaier spoke to reporters after the launch. He said the space agency has already signed a contract with Space X for the company's services on twelve flights. The agreement is worth one point six billion dollars.

Mister Gerstenmaier said the United States no longer pays Russia to carry out such operations. Space X is based in Hawthorne, California. Elon Musk started the company in two thousand two. But, it is not the first company founded the South African-born businessman. He also started the Internet payment service, PayPal, which is now owned by online auction store, Ebay. His other company, Tesla Motors, makes electric cars.

Elon Musk has likened modern space travel to where Internet technology was in the nineteen nineties. At that time, businesses were just starting to think about how to sell goods and services on the World Wide Web. Today, billions of dollars in goods and services are sold online. But after the launch, Mister Musk tried to keep his attention on the job at hand. He said the immediate goal for Space X is to bring supplies to the space station. After that, he thinks the company will work toward improving its rocket technology. He said a major development would be to make what he calls a full and rapidly reusable rocket.

The Dragon spacecraft is designed to be able to carry both astronauts and cargo. Space X says it has forty launches planned over the next few years and contracts worth four billion dollars. It says sixty percent of its upcoming flights are for businesses, not the government.

For VOA Special English, I'm I'm Carolyn Presutti. You can read, listen and learn English with more stories about business and other subjects at (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 25May2012)