It’s official. According to Elon Musk, CEO of private space-transport company SpaceX, NASA has given the final go-ahead on a launch that, if successful, will mark the dawn of a new era in spaceflight: the era of commercial spacecraft. Liftoff is scheduled for Saturday morning.
At 4:55 a.m. EST, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in the first of what NASA hopes will be many successful trips to and from the International Space Station. If the Dragon capsule can successfully dock with the ISS, it will represent a major milestone in NASA’s plan to place the task of crew and cargo shipments in the hands of private companies.
“It is, by all accounts, an important step, bordering on a giant leap, for commercial space,” said Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut and space station commander who now heads the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
Deskarati Update – SpaceX aborted its launch of the Dragon capsule toward the ISS at the last second on Saturday due to a technical issue with one of the rocket’s nine engines. The next opportunity for launch is at 3:44 am on Tuesday, May 22, according to NASA.