Over the weekend, SpaceX successfully test fired the engines of the first stage of its two-stage Falcon 9 rocket. The engines fired for 3.5 seconds, and the test seems to have been a complete success.
The next step in the process is the actual test flight from Cape Kennedy. That could take place any time from March to May, but SpaceX may be looking at April 12. Sound familiar? Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space April 12, 1961, and twenty years later the first flight of Columbia opened the shuttle era.
Another interesting juxtaposition: the next space shuttle mission is scheduled to launch April 5. We could well see that launch with Falcon 9 standing tall in the background-- the immediate past and, perhaps, the immediate, commercial future of American manned spaceflight intersecting.