MOSCOW, April 25 — Dragon, the first private spacecraft to be launched to the International Space Station (ISS), is scheduled to blast off on May 7, a week later than previously scheduled, NASA said on its website.
The launch, initially scheduled for April 30, was delayed to conduct additional tests of the unmanned spacecraft’s software. The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule are at Cape Canaveral undergoing final preparations ahead of the launch.
"We appreciate that SpaceX is taking the necessary time to help ensure the success of this historic flight. We will continue to work with SpaceX in preparing for the May 7 launch to the International Space Station," NASA said in a statement.
The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule have already been taken to Cape Canaveral and are undergoing final preparations.
SpaceX has already conducted two successful Falcon 9 launches and a demonstration flight of the Dragon capsule in December 2010. It became the first privately built and operated spacecraft to be launched to and recovered from Earth orbit.
The Dragon can carry a payload of about six metric tons to the near-earth orbit, and recover three metric tons of payload from the orbit.
Dragon was designed and built by California-based Space Exploration Technologies, known as SpaceX as part of NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to encourage private companies into developing spacecrafts delivering payloads to near-earth orbit and the ISS.
Under the program, SpaceX received US$ 376 million out of the US$ 396-million funding from the U.S. space agency.
Another company, Orbital Sciences Corporation, is scheduled to send its Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the ISS on September 1. (PNA/RIA Novosti)