Private space mission one step closer

April 18, 2012 at 2:59 PM
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., April 18 (UPI) -- SpaceX has crossed another milestone to have the first privately built and funded spacecraft mission to the International Space Station, NASA officials say.

NASA officials met Monday with SpaceX personnel for a thorough Flight Readiness Review ahead of the planned April 30 launch of the Dragon spacecraft on a demonstration flight to the ISS, a NASA release said.

"It's almost like the lead-up to Apollo, in my mind," Mike Horkachuck, NASA's project executive for SpaceX, said. "You had Mercury then you had Gemini and eventually you had Apollo.

"This would be similar in the sense that, we're not going to the moon or anything as spectacular as that, but we are in the beginnings of commercializing space.

"This may be the Mercury equivalent to eventually flying crew and then eventually leading to, in the long run, passenger travel in space," he said.

The Dragon capsule will not have a crew, but will carry about 1,200 pounds of cargo for the astronauts and cosmonauts living on the station.

The capsule will go into space atop a Falcon 9 rocket, also built by SpaceX.

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