Private SpaceX Cargo Ship Launching ‘New Era’ for Space Station Today
A private spacecraft company, Spacex, is going to launch its second unmanned spacecraft tonight (Oct. 7) from a pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to the International Space Station. Liftoff is set for 8:35 p.m. EDT (0035 Monday GMT).
Spacex is now the fedex for space in which NASA will utilize to deliver supplies and replacement parts to the orbiting lab.
Sam Scimemi, NASA’s space station director, said “These flights are critical to the space station’s sustainment and to help begin its full utilization.”
The crew plans to welcome the spacecraft on Wednesday (Oct. 10) by grappling it with a robotic arm and attaching it to the station.
Since NASA has retired its space shuttle fleet, they are relying on commercial spacecraft like Spacex’s Dragon gumdrop shaped capsule to deliver cargo and eventually astronauts to the ISS. Since NASA has outsourced these services, they can focus on developing its own new rocket and spacecraft for deep space exploration. I believe they are looking at going to Mars.
The plan of this flight is to return nearly 2,000 pounds of science experiments, equipment and other items back to earth. It is twice the amount of supplies that the Dragon is delivering.
So, I was really disappointed when the shuttles were retired but now there is more activity not only for the space community but for the scientists as well. May tonight’s flight be successful and the beginning of a new age of getting into space.
The video below will show the first launch by Spacex in May, 2012.