I think some would disagree, like the World Air Sports Federation (FAI), which sets the altitude at a simple and fixed 100km. You break that altitude, then you're in space. NASA has adopted this fixed altitude as well, and no where in the definition does it say how long you have to be up there, or whether or not orbiting makes the point more valid. Suffice to say, many of the people complaining are also the same ones who are against the commercial development of space. No surprise.
And now we come to today, when SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies) has announced that not only is it conducting training with bonafide astronauts on its Dragon system, which is their capsule craft designed to rendezvous with the ISS and any other orbiting platform, but that it plans to be up and running to support crew shifts for the ISS between May and November of 2010.
Notice I said up and running, not developing and testing. With Ares still undergoing good old fashioned NASA testing and development, which as we all know is a wonderfully streamlined and delay free process, SpaceX is stepping up to the plate with the full intent to knock the ball out of the park. Now, I can hear the bickering already, "Falcon 9 hasn't even launched. SpaceX is being pre-mature. This is a PR stunt. No way they'll be ready by then. Falcon 9 is much more complex than Falcon 1, and they screwed up Falcon 1 three times before it worked." Blah, blah, blah.
The core systems between Falcon 1 and 9 are the same. The trick, which is genuine, is to make sure all 9 engines run properly at the same time. The issues related to Falcon 1 all represent learning and growth in understanding of new systems. Last I checked, new rocket systems don't always perform perfectly the first time. What's unique here is that SpaceX achieved success in a very short time at a fraction of the cost when compared to government programs. That's the difference, achieving the same results at a lower cost, which is what commercial space provides us all.
Couple this with Masten Space Systems winning the Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, Armadillo Aerospace coming in a close and respectable second in the same competition, and other NewSpace players making strides of their own, and it's becoming apparent that NewSpace is not a fleeting movement.
Do you hear that? That's the drum beat of revolution, and it will be a benefit to us all.