SpaceX first NASA-contracted supply mission launched
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 8:35 p.m. from Cape Canaveral Florida last Sunday to start its initial contracted cargo delivery to National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s International Space Station.
According to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, the SpaceX launch marks the official start of commercial resupply missions by American companies operating out of U.S. spaceports like the one in Florida.
The Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s craft, called SpaceX, is to ship around 1,000 pounds of supplies to the orbiting space lab and is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.
The capsule will be attached to the station for 18 days before returning for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California on October 28, loaded with around 734 pounds of scientific materials.
SpaceX has 12 planned missions under its $1.6 billion contract with NASA.
The spacecraft will deliver a total of 882 pounds of supplies to the space laboratory, that includes 260 pounds of crew supplies, 390 pounds of scientific research, 225 pounds of hardware and several pounds of miscellaneous supplies.
It will go back with around 1,673 pounds of supplies covering 163 pounds of crew supplies, 866 pounds of scientific research, 518 pounds of vehicle hardware and other hardware materials.
SpaceX is one of two companies that built and tested new cargo spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.
It completed a successful test flight to the ISS in May where it arrived after a nine-day trip and performed a series of checkout maneuvers.
The second company participating in the COTS, Orbital Sciences, has manufactured the Antares rocket launch vehicle which is now on the launch pad at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia where it is to undergo a series of fueling tests. It is scheduled for a test flight with a simulated Cygnus spacecraft in late 2012 while the demonstration flight of Cygnus to the ISS is planned in early 2013.