First Private Spacecraft SpaceX Dragon Ready for Oct. 7 Launch to ISS
The SpaceX Dragon capsule is all set to launch on Oct. 7 to carry a resupply ship to the International space Station (ISS), announced NASA.
The SpaceX capsule is the first privately owned unmanned flight to be launched into the orbit after the retirement of NASA's space shuttle fleet. The Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon cargo spacecraft, owned by the private company, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., are ready for the SpaceX CRS-1 mission to the ISS, a research laboratory that is located 250 miles above Earth.
According to NASA, the space capsule is scheduled for a launch from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 8:34 p.m. EDT with a backup launch timing scheduled on Oct. 8.
This will be the Dragon capsule's second trip to the ISS to supply cargo after it was successfully docked to the ISS during a demonstration flight in May this year. It will be first of the 12 space flights that the SpaceX Company has contracted with NASA in order to supply cargo to the ISS.
NASA announced that the Dragon capsule will carry 1,000 pounds of supplies for the Expedition 33 crew with three members currently aboard the ISS to perform more than 150 scientific experiments. Besides supplying the cargo, the capsule will return to Earth carrying more than 700 pounds of scientific material and about 500 pounds of hardware from the space station.
On its arrival at the ISS, Expedition 33 commander Sunita Williams and Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will grab the robotic arm of the Dragon capsule and attach it to the Earth-facing port of the space station's Harmony module so as to unload the supplies from the cargo ship on Oct. 10.
The capsule will return to Earth in late October for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California.
NASA has been investing in private companies for carrying cargo supplies and other scientific experiments as it is considered to be a cheaper alternative. Besides the California based SpaceX company, NASA also has inked a contract with a Virginia-based private company known as Orbital Sciences Corp (ORB.N) to make unmanned flights to send them to the ISS later this year.