SpaceX's Falcon Rocket Set to Lift off to Space Station
SpaceX's second cargo flight to the International Space Station (ISS) is all set to blast off Friday from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Unmanned rocket Falcon 9, owned by California-based private company Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will be launched at 10:10 a.m. EST, as planned with weather conditions favoring the liftoff, announced NASA.
"We're about to launch and we're happy to be here," said Mike Suffredini, NASA program manager for ISS at Johnson Space Center, during the Falcon 9 prelaunch press conference. "Quite a bit of work has been done by the SpaceX and ISS teams to get here. We've spent a few weeks getting the station ready."
"Very excited to be back here. We're a launch company and we love to launch," said Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX. "We're prepared to fly."
This will be the second of the 12 SpaceX flights that will be used to send cargo resupplies such as food and equipments for research work to the space station. NASA has signed a $1.6 billion contract with SpaceX to use their cargo flights for space missions, after the retirement of the space agency's space shuttles.
Apart from SpaceX, NASA has also made a $1.9 billion commercial resupply services contract with Virginia-based private company Orbital Sciences. The company will send at least eight cargo flights to the space station using its Antares rocket and robotic Cygnus spacecraft.
Just a few days ago, Antares rocket successfully passed a key engine test on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va. The first Antares rocket test flight is expected to be carried out later this year.