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SpaceX Dragon to be first private spacecraft to dock at ISS

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August 18, 2011

When SpaceX's Dragon capsule docks at the International Space Station in November, it will...

When SpaceX's Dragon capsule docks at the International Space Station in November, it will mark the first time that a private spacecraft has visited the facility

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Although we will never see another space shuttle docking at the International Space Station, that doesn't mean that there are no plans for other American spacecraft to be visiting the facility. In fact, one should be up there on or around December 9th. That's when SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to arrive, following a November 30th launch. It's part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, and will be the first time that a privately-developed spacecraft has docked at the ISS.

California-based SpaceX Space Exploration Technologies had originally proposed two separate missions, COTS Demo 2 and Demo 3, to demonstrate to NASA that its craft could successfully transport cargo to and from the ISS. NASA has reportedly agreed in principle to combining the two into one mission, offering up the November 30th launch date.

Besides carrying a cargo capsule to the ISS in the Dragon itself, SpaceX will also be taking the opportunity to deploy equipment from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, which will be carrying the Dragon into orbit. Although the Dragon is capable of carrying a human crew, it will be unmanned on this mission.

SpaceX's Dragon space capsule (Photo: Roger Gilbertson/SpaceX)

SpaceX is already known for a test flight that took place last December, which officially made the Dragon the world's first private reusable spacecraft.

Source: Dvice

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
7 Comments

It looks like we wont have to beg so many rides from the Russians.

Private industry to the rescue.

Slowburn
18th August, 2011 @ 04:37 pm PDT

I hope they are successful, but I seriously doubt they will make the time line. My best guess is they will get something into the air around that time, but will not dock with the ISS.

Michael Mantion
18th August, 2011 @ 06:11 pm PDT

Shouldn't the Dragon have about, oh, 75,000 more test flights before being let near the space station... which it may drag with it to firey doom if there's a major problem?

alcalde
18th August, 2011 @ 10:04 pm PDT

Re alcalde

The shuttle only flew 135 space flights.

Slowburn
18th August, 2011 @ 11:42 pm PDT

It looks like we wont have to beg so many rides from the Russians.

Private industry to the rescue.

Slowburn - August 18, 2011 @ 04:37 pm PDT

Dear Slowdown,

The Soyuz space program has ben taken over by The European Space Agency and is now launching from French Guiana the launch site of ESA. The Russians were paying the Kazakhstan government astronomical fees for the use of the space port. Kazakhstan is no longer under the control of Russia. For this reason with the assistance of ESA it has been moved to South America. Check out this link. http://www.esa.int/esaMI/Launchers_Access_to_Space/SEMQ5P57ESD_0.html

Richard Unger
19th August, 2011 @ 08:38 am PDT

I look forward to each issue of Gizmag, and I hope you will send it for many years.

Thomas Upton
19th August, 2011 @ 10:33 pm PDT

A couple mistaken impressions in the comments:

"I hope they are successful, but I seriously doubt they will make the time line. My best guess is they will get something into the air around that time, but will not dock with the ISS."

SpacEx already has 'put something in the air" 8 months ago, when a Falcon 9 orbited a boilerplate Dragon capsule; which then made the first successful commercial entry and recovery.

"Shouldn't the Dragon have about, oh, 75,000 more test flights before being let near the space station... which it may drag with it to firey doom if there's a major problem?"

Actually, the European ATV vehicle, and the Japanese HTV vehicle, each flew and attached to the ISS without ANY test flights. So Dragon will have been tested much, much more than either the European or Japanese vehicles.

Dave Huntsman
20th August, 2011 @ 09:31 pm PDT
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