Dragon spacecraft docked with the ISS (Image: SpaceX)
Dragon spacecraft docking with the ISS (Image: SpaceX)
The Dragon is the first manned American spacecraft with solar arrays (Image: SpaceX)
The Dragon configuration is based on the Apollo design (Image: SpaceX)
The Dragon can carry seven passengers (Image: SpaceX)
The goal is to make all parts of the Dragon reusable and capable of returning to Earth under their own power (Image: SpaceX)
The private spaceflight company SpaceX declared that 2012 would be the "Year of the Dragon" - a play on the current cycle of the Chinese calendar and the upcoming tests of SpaceX's Dragon space capsule. For a time, it seemed as if SpaceX was regretting that slogan. Dragon was chosen as one of five competitors for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contest to develop a cargo/passenger craft to service the International Space Station. The Dragon program had enjoyed considerable success and was scheduled to be the first private spacecraft to visit and, if all went well, dock with the International Space Station (ISS). Unfortunately, with the need for more testing of the Dragon capsule delaying the launch from its original February 7, 2012 date to late March or even into April, it looked as though the Year of the Dragon was starting a bit late.
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