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SpaceX's Second Cargo Resupply Flight to Space Station Set for March 1

Feb 24, 2013 04:36 AM EST

NASA is planning to send the next cargo resupply flight to the International Space Station (ISS) March 1.

Dragon cargo spacecraft, owned by Californian-based private company Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), is scheduled to be launched on Falcon 9 rocket at 10:10 a.m. EST from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, announced NASA. 

Dragon will carry 1,200 pounds of supplies to the space station for experiments being conducted by a six-member crew aboard the station. ISS is a research laboratory orbiting some 250 miles above Earth.

The Dragon capsule is scheduled to return to Earth March 25, with more than 2,300 pounds of experiment samples and equipment, for a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.

The launch of Dragon will be the second commercial resupply mission to the space station by SpaceX. After the retirement of its space shuttles in 2011, NASA has been investing in private companies for carrying cargo supplies and other scientific experiments to the space station, as a cheap alternative.

The space agency has signed a $1.6 billion contract for at least 12 missions to carry resupplies to and from the ISS. Last October, SpaceX's Dragon capsule was successfully launched to the space station, heralding a new chapter in American space history. The cargo flight returned safely to Earth Oct. 28, 2012.

Besides SpaceX, NASA has also signed a deal with another private company called Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) to supply cargo to the space station in the future. 

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