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NASA Readies First Commercial Unmanned Vehicle for Launch

NASA Readies First Commercial Unmanned Vehicle for Launch - top government contractors - best government contracting event
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NASA Readies First Commercial Unmanned Vehicle for Launch - top government contractors - best government contracting event
Photo: Nasa.gov

NASA is set to launch its first commercially-developed unmanned vehicle for carrying cargo, Space.com reports. 

The vehicle will launch April 30 to conduct a demonstration flight, where it will deliver cargo to the International Space Station. 

Hawthorne, Calif.-based Space Exploration Technologies built the Dragon spacecraft on a $1.6 billion contract, which includes 12 robotic supply missions to the space station.

The demonstration flight is not part of the 12 contracted missions.

NASA and SpaceX met Monday to discuss whether the Dragon spacecraft would be ready for its launch in two weeks. 

Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said the spacecraft will undergo additional software validation tests before its launch as well as a few additional tests, according to Space.com

SpaceX will be the first company to launch a vehicle under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. 

The vehicle will carry food, supplies and scientific experiments to the space station and astronauts will use a robotic arm to receive the supplies. 

SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk, the most difficult part of developing the Dragon was perfecting the software, Space.com reported.

Elon said the demonstration flight will test the proximity operations and berthing system of the vehicle. 

If successful, the Dragon could begin regular missions to the space station later this year, NASA and SpaceX officials said.

 

 

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