NASA announced on Friday (Dec 09) the launch of the first-ever commercial cargo run to its International Space Station (ISS) in February. It will be undertaken by a California-based company, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), which was selected by NASA in 2008 for supply to ISS, when the Space Shuttle is decommissioned.
“SpaceX has made incredible progress over the last several months preparing Dragon for its mission to the space station. We look forward to a successful mission, which will open up a new era in commercial cargo delivery for this international orbiting laboratory” said William Gersternmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
Dragon is a free-flying, reusable, spacecraft developed by SpaceX. It is made up of a pressurized capsule and unpressurised trunk used for Earth to LEO transport of pressurized cargo and unpressurized cargo and crew members.
“There is still a significant amount of critical work to be completed before launch, but the teams have a sound plan to complete it and are prepared for unexpected challenges,” added Gerstenmaier.
Dragon will conduct a series of check-out procedures during the flight to test and prove its systems in advance of the rendezvous with the ISS.
“SpaceX is excited to be the first commercial company in history to berth with the International Space Station. This mission will mark a historic milestone in the future of spaceflight,” said its President Gwynne Shotwell.
SpaceX is also planning to set up astronaut ferry trips in the coming years. (Photograph courtesy: SpaceX)