An article at Space.com forecasts an important year for private space companies in 2013
. SpaceX is working on a new version of its Dragon capsule
that is quite different from the current model. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that the first iteration looked similar to other space capsules because the SpaceX team was learning as they went. Now, they’re drawing on the expertise they’ve gained to tailor the new capsule to their needs. “Musk described Dragon version 2 as having ‘legs that pop out’ and added that it uses parachutes and its eight SuperDraco thrusters for a ‘propulsive landing.’” The capsule will hold up to seven people, and they hope to win a crew transportation contract for getting NASA astronauts up to the ISS. The bidding for that contract starts in the second half of 2013. Commercial space planes are also set to reach new heights in 2013. XCOR Aerospace will be building its Lynx I rocket plane
, and a spokesman said, “we’ll be doing test fights throughout the year from early 2013 and then go into commercial flights.” Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo
will also undergo its first rocket-powered flight this year.