Early Tuesday morning, SpaceX will once again attempt to launch a spacecraft on an historic mission. At 2:44am, the company will try again to send its Falcon 9 rocket into space.
If the mission is successful, the capsule Dragon will dock with the International Space Station, delivering food and clothes to the astronauts on board. That would mark the first time a private company launched a space vehicle to the ISS.
The previous attempt, early Saturday morning, failed because of a faulty engine valve.
"I think this mission is important because it's the first step in a new model, a new way of doing business," said Justin Kugler, an operations strategic analyst with CASIS, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space.
CASIS is a new non-profit organization that acts as a liaison between private companies and the ISS.
"In a way, this is NASA kind of coming into the 21st century by utilizing public/private partnerships to do more than we would have been able to do otherwise," said Kugler, who supported 16 expeditions to the ISS as a NASA contractor.
The SpaceX flight is unmanned but it will nevertheless be carrying human cargo: the cremated remains of more than 300 people, in tiny tubes, to be deposited in space.
One of those customers is James Doohan, the actor who portrayed "Scotty" on Star Trek.
He's being beamed up, you might say, by the Enterprise – private enterprise.
The Houston company providing this service, Celestis, did not return our phone calls on Monday afternoon.
What with the recent layoffs at Johnson Space Center, it's worth asking whether Space City is losing its grip on space. Not likely, says Kugler.
"The ISS program is based here in Houston and the ISS is our foothold in space."