With the loss of the Space Shuttle program …
The United State locked itself out of manned and unmanned delivery systems to low orbit locations….
While the Air Force has its OWN military unmanned shuttle…..
There was no civilian delivery vehicle …
That is…until now….
wiki photo of SpaceX ‘s first capsule to dock with the International Space Station in May…
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. launched an unmanned craft to begin regular cargo deliveries to the International Space Station, becoming the first company to provide space supply services to the U.S. government.
The company, known as SpaceX and controlled by billionaire Elon Musk, launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon capsule at 8:35 p.m. local time today from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The capsule separated from the rocket and reached orbit about 10 minutes after liftoff.
SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California, has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for at least a dozen resupply missions. The agency is relying on companies such as SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp., based in Dulles, Virginia, to do the work after retiring its shuttle fleet last year.
“Falcon 9 rocket booster has delivered Dragon to its target orbit!” Musk tweeted after the launch.
In a test mission, SpaceX on May 25 became the first company to dock a commercial craft at the station.
The supply ship is carrying about 1,000 pounds of cargo, including materials for scientific experiments aboard the station. After a three-day journey through space, it will arrive at the station for a two-week visit.
The bullet-shaped capsule will return to Earth with twice as much gear when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California. It’s designed to bring back a significant amount of experiments, unlike others developed by Orbital (ORB) and the governments ofEurope, Japan and Russia.
SpaceX is also building a manned version of its Dragon spacecraft with help from NASA. The U.S. depends on Russia for transporting crew to the station at a cost of about $63 million per seat aboard Soyuz spacecraft.
The decision to get the Government out the mannered space business was made by President Obama who reasoned that outsourcing the nations manned program to Private contractor [old NASA space hands really ] would be more cost effective….
The US Space program has actually gone backwards from a DC-9 sized space ship shuttle to the old NASA capsule designs the SpaceX Dragon incorporates…..
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