Space X Mission Offically Launches the Commerical Space Era

Company_launchOn Friday NASA announced that Space X, of Hawthorne, California, will fly one of its uncrewed Dragon orbital capsules on an ISS docking and resupply mission on a 7 February launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, vs earlier plan for a low-risk ISS fly-by mission designed to test the Dragon's orbital manouvring capabilities, followed by a second mission in which the riskier docking procedures would be attempted. 

"We will accomplish both missions on one flight," says a SpaceX spokeswoman. "If this mission is successful, SpaceX will start to fulfill its cargo resupply contract on the next flight. We've spent months working with NASA to show we are ready."

Rather than approaching the pressurized hull of the ISS itself, the uncrewed Dragon will be taking advantage of the novel docking methodology first demonstrated by the Japanese Space Agency's HTV2 uncrewed cargo vehicle: it will be plucked from space by the ISS's robot arm, and then slowly "plugged into" an ISS docking port, which avoids the puncture risk of a direct approach. However, future manned Dragon flights won't dock by robot.

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