July 29, 2011

SpaceX Planning Test Flight To Space Station

A SpaceX manager said Thursday that the company plans to launch its second test capsule on November 30 and send it to the International Space Station.

Garret Reisman, a former astronaut working at SpaceX, said the company plans to combine its second and third test flights with a single mission, scheduled to launch November 30 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

"The next flight of the Dragon we're going to go all the way and berth it to the space station, drop cargo off and bring stuff back," Reisman said at the NewSpace 2011 conference that was held at NASA's Ames Research Center in California.

SpaceX developed the Falcon family of rockets, multipurpose Dragon capsules, manufacturing and test sites, and launch facilities in Florida and at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The company is working on upgrading the Dragon cargo capsule for human occupants and has broken ground on a third launch site in California for a heavy-lift version of the Falcon rocket.

"We see both cargo and crew (flight) services as being the key to opening up not only NASA's full use of the great International Space Station but also to open up other uses of low-Earth orbit, some we are talking about and some we have yet to even envision," Dennis Stone, a program manager with NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said at the commercial space conference on Thursday.

The test flight would begin work on its 12-flight, $1.6 billion station cargo delivery mission.

SpaceX is among four companies holding a $269 million contract with NASA to develop space taxies that can fly astronauts to the space station. 

The International Space Station is a $100 billion project between the U.S., Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada and lies 220 miles above Earth.


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