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SpaceX Dragon  (Source:
It will be the first commercial company in history to dock at the ISS

NASA has announced that American space transport company SpaceX will embark on a journey to the International Space Station (ISS) in February 2012.

After retiring its Space Shuttle Program in summer 2011, NASA has had to purchase seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft in order to send American astronauts to the ISS. According to Lori Garver, NASA's deputy administrator, the cost per seat is expected to increase to $63 million by 2015 and the U.S. will be forced to pay the Russians $450 million per year in 2016 and beyond for every year that the U.S. delays its own commercial crew vehicle.

To remedy this issue, NASA is looking to California-based private commercial company SpaceX to send supplies to the ISS. NASA has set a date of February 7, 2012 for the SpaceX launch.

"SpaceX is excited to be the first commercial company in history to berth with the International Space Station," said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president. "This mission will mark a historic milestone in the future of spaceflight."

SpaceX will send its unmanned Dragon spacecraft to the ISS in the February launch. The spacecraft, which will not be carrying important cargo in case something goes wrong, will perform various check-out procedures to test its systems sensor operations about two miles before reaching the ISS. If all goes well, it will dock at the ISS and unload the cargo, then return home into the Pacific Ocean.

"SpaceX has made incredible progress over the last several months preparing Dragon for its mission to the space station," said William Gerstenmaier of NASA. "We look forward to a successful mission, which will open up a new era in commercial cargo delivery for this international orbiting laboratory."

Sources: Tech2, Wired

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Good news and how sad.
By luseferous on 12/12/2011 12:21:08 PM , Rating: 2
Great news that the SpaceX project is coming along so well.

How sad that the US/NASA is reduced buying tickets for trips into space.

RE: Good news and how sad.
By lostvyking on 12/12/2011 12:23:34 PM , Rating: 1
Given the way that government does things...buying tickets will probably be 10 times cheaper. Works for me... as I would rather see the money go back to the private sector, anyway.

RE: Good news and how sad.
By NellyFromMA on 12/12/2011 12:53:45 PM , Rating: 2
Just as the government has it's own cars, jets etc. what makes you think that once the private sector has nailed down a reusable efficiently designed means of space transport that our government won't be procuring those as well?

RE: Good news and how sad.
By ViroMan on 12/12/2011 2:48:37 PM , Rating: 1
Of course they can.

"In the interest of national and space security, we will be procuring your space vehicle for the needs of the government. Here is a tiny check that only covers the cost of the materials to build the vehicle not the total cost of the vehicle itself. Also here is a stack of paper saying we can do this and for you to shut up or we will cite you for treason and place you in jail for the rest of your life without a trial."

RE: Good news and how sad.
By danjw1 on 12/12/2011 2:59:46 PM , Rating: 2
From a US company. Who do you think they bought the space shuttles from? The US government is not a manufacturer. SpaceX beats everyone else on price. No US government program could do that, too many cooks in the kitchen for that to work.

RE: Good news and how sad.
By danjw1 on 12/12/2011 3:05:27 PM , Rating: 2
One more thought, because of SpaceX the US is actually gaining a share of the launch market, which we were losing before SpaceX.

RE: Good news and how sad.
By luseferous on 12/12/2011 3:52:06 PM , Rating: 2
You miss my point. They are not buying spaceX 'airframes' but buying tickets to ride on them along with tickets to ride on Russian space craft.

RE: Good news and how sad.
By luseferous on 12/12/2011 3:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
Its like the U.S president having to catch a bus to make state visits.

RE: Good news and how sad.
By JediJeb on 12/12/2011 4:24:37 PM , Rating: 2
But at least NASA will be catching a US bus instead of a Russian one. Also those tickets will be cheaper than NASA running the show themselves and it will put money into SpaceX which will allow them to expand and invest in more commercial uses for space travel.

Imagine if the US government had owned the railroads instead of simply funding their development. Our freight system would be as slow and underdeveloped as the AmTrak passenger system is today.

RE: Good news and how sad.
By delphinus100 on 12/12/2011 10:54:37 PM , Rating: 2
Most non-military (and quite a few military) government employees do fly commercially to where they're needed, you know. Not on government-owned aircraft. Nothing new in principle, there.

RE: Good news and how sad.
By delphinus100 on 12/12/2011 10:50:44 PM , Rating: 2
How sad that the US/NASA is reduced buying tickets for trips into space.

Nothing wrong with that in itself. That's what access to LEO should be, by now. Let NASA concentrate on more distant things.

At the moment, it's having to 'buy tickets' from a no-competition, single-source, foreign government, with which our relationship is still somewhat adversarial, that's a concern...

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