SpaceX will launch an unmanned capsule into orbit to carry supplies and cargo to the International Space Station under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA, according to Channel News Asia.
The dragon capsule will take off on March 1, 2013 in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to transport about 544 kilograms of supplies to the ISS, including grapple bars and materials for 160 experiments.
Mike Suffredini, NASA’s ISS program manager, said the space vehicle, which makes its third launch to the space and fulfills NASA's second of 12 planned trips, forms an “integral part“ of how the space administrator operates and uses the ISS.
The liftoff will take less than 24 hours from launch to berthing, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said.
The vehicle will return on March 25 in a splashdown landing off the California coast to bring back materials from ISS, including the results of the medical experiments.
In October 2012, the capsule successfully re-supplied the ISS to complement USA's move to privatize the space industry to cut costs.