Washington: A private capsule is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station on its first contracted cargo mission on 7 October 7, Nasa said. SpaceX’s robotic Dragon spacecraft is set to blast off atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on 7 October.
The mission will kick off Dragon’s first-ever bona fide supply run to the station. California-based SpaceX holds a $ 1.6 billion Nasa contract to make 12 such unmanned flights, ’SPACE.com’ reported.
When it leaves the pad on October 7, Dragon will be carrying about 454 kilograms of supplies, officials said. Much of the gear will support the 166 different scientific investigations — including experiments in plant cell biology,
human biotechnology and materials demonstrations — planned during the station’s current Expedition 33.
If all goes according to plan, Dragon will rendezvous with the station on October 10, at which point Expedition 33 commander Sunita Williams of Nasa and Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide will grapple it with the orbiting lab’s robotic arm.
Dragon will stay attached to the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony module for several weeks while the Expedition 33 crew unloads the capsule and then loads it back up again with cargo to return to Earth.
Dragon is scheduled to depart the station in late October. It will splash down in the Pacific Ocean, carrying 333 kg of scientific materials and 229 kg of space station hardware, officials said.
The October 7 flight won’t mark Dragon’s maiden mission to the $ 100 billion orbiting complex. In May, Dragon became the first private vehicle ever to
visit the station during a historic demonstration mission that sought to gauge SpaceX’s readiness to begin its contracted flights.