On May 19th, private space firm SpaceX, will finally launch its vaunted Falcon 9 rocket into space. Aboard the rocket is the Dragon space capsule. The hopes of this launch is to have the Dragon capsule dock with the International Space Station and both deliver a payload and unload space garbage.
The launch was originally suppose to take place on May 7th, but was delayed for unknown reasons. Most people believe that it was for the SpaceX engineers to tweak the programming one last time to make sure that the capsule will be able to meet its specified goal.
If the Falcon 9 launch is successful, and the Dragon capsule is able to dock to te International Space Station, then SpaceX will begin to fulfill its contract through the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The resupply contract for the International Space Station has it making 12 runs, and since it is reusable, they will have the ability to ferry items back and forth, not just trash but experiments.
The Falcon 9/Dragon program is part of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement has been worth about $381 million for hitting 37 out of 40 milestones, and that will hit $396 million if SpaceX is able to hit them all.
Between SpaceX and Virgin, it is nice to see private companies take a risk like this. Even though they do have government grants, the owners did have to take a risk to get SpaceX up and running.
The launch is set for Saturday, 19 May at 8.55 GMT, with coverage starting on NASA TV at 7.30 GMT.