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    SpaceX and the Six Billionaires Behind the "New Gilded Age"

    Commercial space travel was long confined to the realm of science fiction.

    But no more.

    With SpaceX's successful rocket launch on May 22, commercial space travel is now a concrete, viable reality... and one that will yield lots of investment opportunities in the very near future.

    After a three-day delay, the well-funded startup's private space ship - a gumdrop-shaped capsule called Dragon - rocketed into outer space.

    It then docked with the International Space Station on the very first try. SpaceX made history. It was the first time a private firm has flown such a mission.

    In an article a few weeks ago entitled: "SpaceX Picks Up Where NASA Left Off"- I predicted the venture would succeed.

    Now that it has, I believe this event will serve as the tipping point for the whole commercial space sector.

    And to think, we have a small group of billionaire investors to thank for it all...

    SpaceX Opens the Door to a New Age

    A handful of visionary leaders, drawn mostly from the high-tech sector, make up what I have come to call the "New Gilded Age."

    For those of you who may not recall from your school days and history classes, the first Gilded Age happened in late 1800s America.

    Back then, a select few wealthy men made enormous fortunes for themselves in oil, steel, and the like, and used part of that money to help build the nation.

    They built the railroads and the telegraph system. They also donated huge sums to U.S. colleges to vault those institutions of learning well ahead of those in Europe. All of which set the stage for the huge economic boom that helped launch America as a global power.

    I contend that the same thing is happening again.

    Before I explain, I want to point out something about the first "Gilded Age."

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  • private space companies

  • SpaceX Picks Up Where NASA Left Off A few minutes before dawn yesterday we crossed what could be a major space-related milestone.

    An intriguing little startup firm called SpaceX launched one of its Falcon 9 rockets from Cape Canaveral, Fl., to dock its Dragon spacecraft with the International Space Station.

    Make no mistake about it - this could mark a turning point for the U.S.

    NASA ended the shuttle program last year. That leaves the U.S. hitching rides to the Space Station from our "good friends" the Russians. That's not good for national security, much less for innovation and exploration.

    We've already talked about the "New Space Race" - part of that being the asteroid mining initiative that private company Planetary Resources is embarking upon.

    When it comes to space transportation, thankfully, SpaceX plans to pick up where cash-strapped NASA left off.

    Saturday's launch could eventually have a value of at least $1.6 billion - that's the total price tag for a contract NASA gave to SpaceX for 12 Space Station flights.

    But there's more to the story than that...

    Commercializing Space Travel

    I predict that in a few short years, commercial space travel will become routine.

    Not only will we be mining all those near-space asteroids for vital resources, we will be able to visit Mars, and even send tourists out for close-up views of the planets.

    That's why, even though Saturday was just a test run, there's a lot riding on it.

    The company, crew, NASA, and investors all hope this new launch pulls it together for the firm and the budding commercial space sector.

    CEO Elon Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 and plowed $100 million of his own money into it. What they're after - eventually - is the ability to offer space travel at approximate one-third of the cost per passenger that Russia can do it today, according to a recent Wired interview with another SpaceX co-founder.

    If anyone can do it, it's Elon Musk.

    Born in South Africa, he is a talented young entrepreneur with a knack for making money. (This is the man who was the inspiration for multi-billionaire industrialist Tony Stark in the film version of "Iron Man" - both for director Jon Favreau and for actor Robert Downey Jr.'s portrayal of Stark.)

    And he's part of the reason I believe in SpaceX, even if the mission tomorrow goes bust.

    This is just not a man who likes to take "no" for an answer.

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