First Private Cargo Ship Expected at Space Station in November
With the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet, NASA is looking to the private sector to provide the rockets and ships necessary to keep the International Space Station going. If things go as planned, the first privately owned space capsule will dock at the space station in November.
A company called SpaceX is ready to make history with its unmanned mission to the Space Station by a privately owned space ship.
SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California, plans to launch its Dragon capsule November 30th for an unmanned test run to the station. The launch will be followed by a docking with the station docking a week later.
SpaceX has been testing this next generation space capsule for some time. Last December, the Dragon capsule made the world's first private trip into Earth orbit and back.
During that test flight, the capsule simulated some of the maneuvers that will be needed for a docking with the space station.
NASA is now completely dependent on private companies like SpaceX to handle space station supply runs and astronaut rides. Until that working relationship can be established, NASA will be hitching rides on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, at a cost of more than $60 million dollars per seat per launch.