Private capsule to launch cargo to space station

September 21st, 2012 - 2:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 21 (IANS) A private capsule is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station on a cargo mission Oct 7, US space agency NASA announced.

The SpaceX’s robotic Dragon spacecraft is set to blast off atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 8.34 p.m. Oct 7, reported Xinhua.

This will be the first of 12 contracted flights by SpaceX to resupply the space station and marks the second trip by a Dragon to the station, following a successful demonstration mission in May.

Dragon will be carrying 454 kg of supplies. Much of the gear will support the 166 different scientific investigations planned during the station’s current Expedition 33.

Until their retirement last summer, US space shuttles carried most of the gear and many of the astronauts to the space station. Since then, American astronauts have had to rely on Russian capsules for rides. European, Japanese and Russian supply ships have been delivering cargo.

NASA is looking to the private sector, in this post-shuttle era, to get American astronauts launching again from US soil. It will be at least four to five years before SpaceX or any other private operator is capable of flying astronauts.

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