SpaceX Dragon Mission FINALLY Approved by NASAThis is it, folks. SpaceX has finally been given the go ahead to launch the Dragon capsule towards the International Space Station. After months and months of delays, which we now know were the result of NASA not being comfortable with the craft flying near the ISS without having intimate knowledge about it, SpaceX will be launching May 19th.
In case you are wondering what all the hoopla is about, this will mark the first time that a commercial spacecraft--one not created by a government body or a nation--will dock with the ISS. Hell, it will be the first time that a anyone but a government will have docked anything in space at all.
The Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, both made by SpaceX
The launch will test the various Dragon systems before the craft performs a flyby of the station 1.5 miles away. If all the tests are successful, the craft will dock with the ISS and deliver over a thousand pounds of goods. Then the Dragon will be loaded will be loaded with trash and sent back home.
NASA will be airing the launch live on NASA TV, but the launch will be happening at 4:55 AM EST, so you will have to really want to watch it.
The International Space Station has been serviced by Russia’s Soyus series of craft ever since the retirement of the Space Shuttle. But at ~40 million a seat, it’s a pricey trip into space. SpaceX hopes that the Dragon will eventually be used to carry astronauts into orbit, reducing our need on our cold-war enemy and revitalizing America’s space efforts.
Perhaps one day the Dragon module will even service private space stations like the ones proposed by Bigelow Aerospace.