The first SpaceX mission to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) happens October 7, 2012. The flight begins a series of missions to deliver and return cargo to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract aboard the privately run Dragon spacecraft.
SpaceX’s Dragon will bring 1,000 pounds of supplies to the six person Expedition 33 crew aboard the ISS. Those astronauts will load us a robotic arm to grapple Dragon, attach it to the ISS then load an estimated 730 pounds of scientific materials and 504 pounds of space station hardware to be returned to Earth.
NASA’s goal with the Commercial Crew Development Program is “to accelerate the availability of U.S. commercial crew transportation capabilities and reduce the gap in American human spaceflight capability. Through this activity, NASA also may be able to spur economic growth as potential new space markets are created,” the space agency said in a press release.Florida’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is offering the public an opportunity to view this night launch from the NASA Causeway with a limited number of Special Access Passes that can be purchased for $20 plus tax, in addition to admission. Bus boarding will begin at 5:30 p.m. EDT for transportation to the NASA Causeway.
Launch viewing is also available from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, including live mission control commentary, and is included with regular admission. The night launch is scheduled for 8:34 p.m. EDT from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
In other SpaceX news, earlier this month SpaceX’s Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing test vehicle (VTVL) took its first test flight hop from the company’s rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas, shown in this video:
The short hop of approximately 6 feet is a major milestone for Grasshopper, part of a reusable first stage for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. As seen in the video, “Grasshopper” is a Falcon 9 first stage, a Merlin-1D engine, and four steel landing legs along with a a steel support structure.
SpaceX is developing vehicles that are fully and rapidly reusable in line with a NASA goal of reducing cost and increasing the efficiency of spaceflight.
Grasshopper is expected to test out hovering at about 100 feet in the next several months.
[Flickr photo by FlyingSinger]