By Bill Graham
The successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (I should really say "launch vehicle") today was another great step for commercial spaceflight. The Falcon 9 has already successfully reached orbit in June 2010, but at that time it didn't have a payload. This latest launch is the first to carry SpaceX Dragon capsule which was successfully recovered after the flight.
SpaceX launch vehicles are the epitome of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) solutions. By successfully building, testing and launching commercial spaceflight vehicles they are demonstrating that COTS solutions are not only cheaper to produce but can be equally successful and achieve desired program goals.