SpaceX’s ‘Dragon’ capsule set to launch late March

Daniel McCall - Author
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Jul. 30 2013, Updated 1:43 a.m. ET

The launch of the first private capsule from Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), dubbed the “Dragon” capsule, had to be put on hold earlier in the month to make time for more testing. Now, NASA has given the green light for the capsule to launch, and SpaceX says that a launch is expected in late March.

SpaceX has already successfully completed a trial run of the Dragon capsule back in 2010, but the only purpose of that test was to send the capsule into space and successfully retrieve it after it took the plunge back to Earth. The March mission will take SpaceX’s Dragon capsule a bit further, with the capsule intended to park itself by the International Space Station, where astronauts aboard may retrieve it with a robotic arm.

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“Today marks the start of the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar, and this year, SpaceX’s Dragon will become the first privately developed spacecraft to visit the International Space Station,” SpaceX officials wrote in a statement. “Space travel is one of the most difficult of all human endeavors, and success is never a guarantee. This flight introduces a series of new challenges and new magnitudes of complexity; if even the smallest thing goes wrong, we will be forced to abort the mission.”

SpaceX’s goal with the Dragon capsule is to be able to deliver various items to astronauts aboard the International Space Station, but the company has their sights set further than that. They’re also looking into developing a modified version of the capsule that could potentially be able to deliver astronauts to the ISS.

[Image credit: SpaceX]

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