The private company SpaceX is set to make the first-ever commercial voyage to the International Space Station using its Falcon rocket and Dragon space capsule. After approving the flight readiness review at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, NASA has decided to move forward with the April 30 launch date. “The mission will take roughly four days until the Dragon will dock with the space station in orbit and combines two separate tests into a single flight. The capsule will then remain attached to the station for 18 days.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Before docking with the Space Station, the Dragon capsule will perform various maneuvers to test its navigation and communication capabilities. But beyond the mission’s technical achievements, it marks NASA’s transition from “shouldering the responsibility to deliver payloads to orbit, to a consumer of space delivery services.” This shift was emphasized Tuesday when the space shuttle discovery flew for the last time, on its way to Washington DC where it will be given to the Smithsonian. In SpaceX, NASA is primarily looking for a less expensive way to deliver payloads into orbit.