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SpaceX to launch first commercial flight to ISS

Washington, Sep 25 (): SpaceX has announced the launch date of the first and the foremost privately controlled flight to ISS, International Space Station as October 7, 2012.

The robotic Dragon spacecraft of SpaceX is all set to lift off from the Air Force Station in Florida’s Cape Canaveral. Officials said, when the space craft leaves the launch pad on 7th October, it will be taking with it about 454 kg supplies to the International Space Station.

The launch is the first of the 12 contracted trips by SpaceX to supply goods to the International Space Station. SpaceX, which is the California-based company, holds a NASA contract for US $1.6 billion to operate 12 unmanned flights to ISS.

The Dragon spacecraft will be carrying supplies weighing about 1,000 pounds, including important materials to utilise for 166 investigations scheduled for the space station’s crew, in addition to the 63 new investigations.

Sunita Williams, new commander of the Expedition 33 of NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Aki Hoshide will make use of a robotic arm to handle the Dragon spacecraft following its attachment with the space station on Oct. 10, Wednesday. They will fasten the spacecraft to Earth-facing port of ISS’s Harmony module for few weeks. The crew members in ISS will unload the cargo materials and load their experiment samples that have to return to Earth.

Dragon is planned to return from ISS in the later days of October by a parachute-assisted splash down in Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California. Officials said, the Dragon will have a controlled splash down with 333 kg weighing scientific materials and hardware from space station weighing about 229 kg.

This mission is said to have created a new meaning to the important task of carrying cargo to ISS. In May, the Dragon space craft demonstrated its first visit to the space station at its historic demonstration operation that was done to prove the readiness of SpaceX to start its contracted flights.