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October 1-7, 2012 / Vol 31, No 40 / Hawai`i Island, USA

28 Sep 2012, 20:01 UTC
October 1-7, 2012 / Vol 31, No 40 / Hawai`i Island, USA
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SpaceX Dragon First Operational Mission Heralds New Era of Space Exploration

The Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon cargo spacecraft are ready for the SpaceX CRS-1 mission, scheduled to launch at 20:34 EDT on October 7 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. A back up launch opportunity is available on Oct 8. This will be the 1st of 12 operational flights the Dragon capsule will conduct for NASA to the International Space Station, after the successful demo flight in May. After a 3-day journey, Expedition 33 NASA Commander Sunita Williams and JAXA’s Aki Hoshide will catch Dragon with Canadarm2 and guide it to the station’s Harmony node for birthing. Dragon will be carrying about 450kg of supplies, including critical materials for the 166 investigations planned for the Expedition 33 crew. Dragon is scheduled for a parachute-assisted splash down in late Oct, returning about 330kg of scientific materials and about 225kg of space station hardware. This mission marks the beginning of a new phase in USA Space exploration in which commercial space companies such as SpaceX are taking over LEO / ISS cargo and human transportation, allowing NASA to focus on deep space missions ...

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