Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Anticipation and excitement over the first-ever launch of a private spaceship to the International Space Station next month is steadily building, astronauts and NASA flight controllers said Tuesday (March 20).
Private space company SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, Calif., is preparing to launch its Dragon capsule to the space station April 30. The unmanned capsule will be the first of a new fleet of commercial spacecraft being developed to deliver cargo to the station in the wake of the space shuttle retirement last year.
The Dragon capsule will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. If all goes well, it will fly up to the orbiting laboratory, conduct tests, and then dock there May 3.
“Our fingers are crossed for SpaceX to launch and successfully come to the space station,” NASA astronaut Sunita Williams said during a news conference Tuesday. Williams is due to lift off atop a Russian Soyuz spacecraft July 15, along with a Russian cosmonaut and a Japanese astronaut, to serve on the space station’s Expedition 32 and Expedition 33 missions.
If SpaceX’s April test flight goes smoothly, another Dragon capsule will make the first official cargo delivery run in August, when Williams and her colleagues Yuri Malenchenko of Russia and Akihiko Hoshide of Japan will be aboard the outpost.
Full article: http://www.space.com … -station-flight.html