FAA issues private spacecraft permit

Nov. 23, 2010 at 5:27 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued the first-ever license for a commercial spacecraft to re-enter Earth's atmosphere from orbit, officials say.

The license will allow the California-based company SpaceX to complete the first operational flight of the Dragon spacecraft during a NASA demonstration mission set for a Dec. 7 launch, Florida Today reported.

After its launch from Cape Canaveral atop a Falcon 9 rocket, the Dragon will orbit the planet twice before re-entering and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off Southern California.

"The flight of Dragon will be an important step toward commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station," NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said in a statement.

"NASA wishes SpaceX every success with the launch."

SpaceX is working through technical issues related to the Dragon's first flight, company officials say.

NASA's possible launch of shuttle Discovery between Dec. 3 and Dec. 6 could affect mission preparations, officials said.

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