Private spaceship will visit in February

Private spaceship will visit in February

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Private spaceship will visit in February

The SpaceX Dragon capsule will visit the nternational Space Station on Feb 7. AP photo

The astronauts living on the International Space Station (ISS) are gearing up for a milestone event in February, the first visit of a commercial spaceship to the orbiting outpost, reported.

The private spaceflight company SpaceX plans to launch its unmanned Dragon capsule to orbit Feb. 7 atop the firm’s Falcon 9 booster from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida. The capsule will carry a load of food, clothing and other supplies for the six-man crew of the space station.

“We’re excited about that,” NASA astronaut Don Pettit told in an interview on Jan. 4 from the station. “Anytime you have a visiting vehicle coming by, that’s an exciting day.”

Dragon’s flight is partially funded by NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which aims to stimulate the development of private spacecraft to carry cargo to the station now that NASA’s space shuttle fleet is retired.

The Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX is the first of a number of companies vying to fly test flights to the International Space Station. NASA has also awarded funding to the Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., which is developing the Cygnus spacecraft to fly on its Taurus 2 rocket.

Dragon is due to make an automated rendezvous with the International Space Station at about 386 kilometers above the Earth. Once it approaches within a few meters of the laboratory, astronauts inside will use the station’s robotic arm to grab hold of the capsule and attach it to the outpost. “It’s going to be packed with all kinds of supplies for us, and it’s sort of the first of many wagon trains coming up here to bring us supplies,” Pettit said.

After being docked for about a week, Dragon will depart the space station, carrying cargo back down to Earth, where the capsule will be retrieved after landing in the Pacific Ocean.

Dragon capsule,