Did it today. Two orbits and return, no one on board; but it's the first time a privately-built spacecraft has done that, managed the whole mission profle you'd need to go Gagarin without having to bum the ride from a Gummint. Story here (may be a bit pop-uppy) and at SpaceX.
Who's flown to orbit and back? Five nations, one group of nations (ESA) and...SpaceX. Run by the same guy who owned PayPal back when they were kewl. He's setting up to haul freight to orbit now and he hopes to sell you a seat someday, too. FedEx, Greyhound, Delta? Move over. New player. New game.
And SpaceX is just the frontrunner. There's an easy half-dozen more coming up behind 'em.
4 months ago