SpaceX opens era of amateur astronauts, cosmic movie sets

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX’s debut astronaut launch is the biggest, most visible opening shot yet in NASA’s grand plan for commercializing Earth’s backyard. Amateur astronauts, private space stations, out-of-this-world movie sets _ this is the future NASA is striving to shape as it eases out of low-Earth orbit and aims for the moon and Mars. The road to get there has never been so crowded, with Elon Musk’s SpaceX company leading the pack. A week ago, SpaceX became the first private company to send people into orbit, something accomplished by only three countries in almost 60 years. SpaceX is already partnering with other U.S. companies to send paying customers to not only the space station, but the moon.