2012: A new space odyssey?


(CBS News) The first launch of a private rocket set to dock with the International Space Station is set for Saturday.

SpaceX's rocket will be loaded with cargo. If successful, it could mark the beginning of a new era of private access to low earth orbit.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, called the participation of private launches "a long overdue event."

"It's a very important first step in getting private enterprise to participate in the routine activities that NASA, in my judgment, shouldn't be doing," Tyson said. He believes NASA should be reserved for advancing the frontier.

Regarding safety concerns for private launches, Tyson said, "If there's anything that shouldn't be dangerous, it's getting to low earth orbit where we've been going since 1961. Yeah it's dangerous. But still you test it and it works and you do it and it's cheaper."