HAWTHORNE (CBS) — NASA has selected Southern California’s SpaceX to launch the first commercial cargo run to the International Space Station.

Since the U.S. space shuttle program has ended, NASA must find an alternative method to deliver supplies to the astronauts still manning the space station.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX employs 1,600 people, and hopes to revive the aerospace industry in SoCal by moving into low earth space travel.

Garret Reisman is a former astronaut and manager of Space X’s Dragon Rider project. He says this is the beginning of a new era in space travel.

“This is going to be the first time that a spacecraft that’s built by a commercial company flies into space and docks at the International Space Station,” says Reisman. “This is something only space shuttles and Russian Soyuz spacecraft have done before.”

NASA says the launch of the Dragon space capsule will take place Feb. 7. at Cape Canaveral from a launch pad refurbished by SpaceX.