The goal is to have SpaceX and other private firms take over the job of ferrying astronauts to and from the space station in the next few years.
SpaceX _ so far the leader of the pack _ is aiming for a manned Dragon flight by 2015.
This is the second in a planned series of 12 SpaceX deliveries under the contract with NASA; the first was last October. A company-sponsored demo mission kicked everything off last May.
Competitor Orbital Sciences Corp. has yet to get off its Virginia launch pad. The company plans to launch a free-flying test of its Antares rocket and Cygnus supply ship in April, followed by a demo run to the space station in early summer. Then the so-called operational supply runs can begin.
Russia, Japan and Europe regularly make station deliveries as well, and Russia is the only option for astronaut rides. But only the Dragon is designed to bring back substantial amounts of research and used merchandise.
This Dragon is scheduled will spend more than three weeks at the space station before being cut loose by the crew on March 25. It will parachute into the Pacific with more than a ton of medical samples, plant and cell specimens, Japanese fish and old machinery, and used spacewalking gloves and other items.
SpaceX plans to launch its next Dragon to the station in late fall.
More than 2,000 guests jammed the Cape Canaveral launch site Friday morning to watch the Falcon take flight. It wasn’t much of a show because of all the clouds.
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Vishwas Anand feels poetry can influence minds and hearts as you sway to your latent emotions and seek that perfect resonance.
Find out who’s making waves in the mobile industry
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
Life advice – from one friend to another!
World's Ugliest Dog Contest
Spelling Bee finale
Marines train Afghan soldiers
Rolling Thunder 2013
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal