A private U.S. company will attempt the commercial cargo run, i.e. Dragon capsule, on an unmanned mission to the International Space Station on February 7, 2012. It will be the first-ever bid by a private company to dock at the orbiting lab.
NASA announced the news for second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) on Friday, one year and one day after Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, became the first private business to launch a capsule i.e. Dragon Spacecraft into orbit in December of 2010 atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The spacecraft orbited the Earth at speeds greater than 7600 meters per second and return safely to Earth.
“SpaceX has made incredible progress over the last several months preparing Dragon for its mission to the space station,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. “We look forward to a successful mission, which will open up a new era in commercial cargo delivery for this international orbiting laboratory.”
Gerstenmaier said, “There is still a significant amount of critical work to be completed before launch, but the teams have a sound plan to complete it and are prepared for unexpected challenges. As with all launches, we will adjust the launch date as needed to gain sufficient understanding of test and analysis results to ensure safety and mission success.”
SpaceX is the Southern California firm developing commercial rockets for spaceflight.