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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk
There was a slight delay from the April 30 estimated launch date for more testing

SpaceX has finally set a date for its first launch to the International Space Station (ISS): May 7, 2012.

SpaceX, which will be the first private company to send a spacecraft to the ISS, has been working on its Dragon cargo capsule for the big flight. However, a few delays have put the Dragon a bit behind the original schedule.

The Dragon was originally set to launch on February 7, but SpaceX said that it wanted to conduct more tests before the cargo capsule made its way into space.

Earlier this month, NASA set a second estimated launch date for April 30, but the date was never set in stone. In fact, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Bill Gerstenmaier said there was only a "good chance" of the Dragon making the April 30 deadline.

Now, after a bit more testing, SpaceX has confirmed the final launch date as May 7 instead. The Dragon will lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The launch is set for exactly 9:38 a.m. (1338 GMT).

"We appreciate that SpaceX is taking the necessary time to help ensure the success of this historic flight," said Gerstenmaier. "We will continue to work with SpaceX in preparing for the May 7 launch to the International Space Station."

The Dragon capsule will carry 1,149 pounds of cargo to the ISS and return a 1,455 pound shipment back to Earth.

The delays and extra testing will be well worth it come May 7, when SpaceX will make history and represent the United States' re-entry into space travel. Last year, NASA retired its space shuttle fleet, which U.S. astronauts depended on for delivering supplies to the ISS. Since that retirement, American astronauts have been forced to depend on Russian Soyuz rockets to make their way to the ISS -- and the cost of one seat on the Russian spacecraft is expected to increase to $63 million by 2015.

It was clear that the U.S. needed a new way into space, and SpaceX gladly jumped to the opportunity with its Dragon cargo capsule, which is intended for both manned and unmanned missions.

Other companies,
such as BlueOrigin LLC, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Boeing, have jumped into the private space travel ring as well, but SpaceX raced to the top in a hurry. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk pushed past issues like delays and public criticism from American space heroes Neil Armstrong (the first astronaut to step foot upon the Moon on Apollo 11) and Gene Cernan (the last man to step foot upon the moon on Apollo 17) to be the first private company to launch a spacecraft to the ISS. 

"I was very sad to see that because those guys are, you know, those guys are heroes of mine, so it's really tough," said Musk. "You know, I wish they would come and visit, and see the hard work that we're doing here. And I think that would change their mind.

"What I'm trying to do is to make a significant difference in space flight, and help make space flight accessible to almost anyone. And I would hope for as much support in that direction as we, as we can receive."

NASA has provided about $270 million to private companies in order to encourage a new era of commercial space travel and tourism.

Source: Yahoo

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By geddarkstorm on 4/25/2012 12:13:20 PM , Rating: 5
It isn't so much "private industry" that's stepping up as it is Elon Musk. Using his fortune from the Paypal sale to finance all this mostly out of pocket (at least at the beginning of SpaceX), all to fulfill his personal dreams. He's also heavily involved with every stage of the company's work; you could say the company is Elon Musk, even still.

This is Elon Musk's vision, not private industry, leading a revolution--no one else was willing to do this before him, despite there being launch companies already entrenched for satellites and such like the United Launch Alliance; they haven't stepped up at all to meet the needs we have despite already being right there on the front lines. Companies by themselves are not inventive nor creative and lack any real foresight, it's always a particular individual who put their visions in motion that moves a company and the whole industry; from Alexander Graham Bell to Henry Ford and Steve Jobs. "Private Industry" is not some mythical beast that can solve any problems, it's the revolutionary individuals who take it by the reigns and direct industry's force that create our future.

The rest of private industry is trudging along slowly in his wake. But thankfully, once they get their gears rolling, and private industry really does take over in its methodical, iterative, business way, then space should finally start opening up for the masses.

By NellyFromMA on 4/25/2012 12:30:35 PM , Rating: 2
Just curious, but if this guy made his money in the private sector to start up another private sector venture, how is that not private industry stepping up...

Also, he isn't the only one stepping up to start and proceed with a venture, so I'm just a little lost as to how this isn't a private industry standing up.

Maybe I'm just confused?

By Jakeisbest on 4/25/2012 1:28:19 PM , Rating: 2
geddarkstorm is saying all of spaceX's capital is coming from Musk's personal fortune. It was more of a dream than a business venture at it's inception.

By JediJeb on 4/25/2012 2:42:57 PM , Rating: 2
What he said is pretty accurate in that individuals are usually the ones that drive innovation, it is not so often that private sector "company" does it. Once an innovation has happened, then the more cautious "companies" will take over. Companies do not always want to take so much risk as to endanger their financial welfare, individuals are usually more willing to face such a risk.

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