NASA, SpaceX to Discuss 1st Private Launch to Space Station Monday
An artist's illustration of SpaceX's Dragon space capsule in Earth orbit.
Credit: SpaceX

NASA and commercial space company SpaceX will discuss plans to launch the first private spaceship to the International Space Station during a press conference Monday (April 16).

The briefing will follow a meeting among mission managers to decide whether the spacecraft is ready to lift off as planned April 30.

SpaceX is the first firm scheduled to launch its unmanned vehicle to the station under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program aimed at stimulating the development of private vehicles to take over the duties of the retired space shuttles.

The time for Monday's briefing, to be held at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, has not yet been set, but it will follow the Flight Readiness Review meeting due to wrap up in the early afternoon.

Speakers will include:

·         William Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations

·         Michael Suffredini, International Space Station program manager

·         Alan Lindenmoyer, Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program manager

·         Elon Musk, SpaceX chief executive officer and chief designer

·         Holly Ridings, NASA flight director

SpaceX's Dragon capsule is slated to blast off atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The craft will be carrying food, supplies and scientific experiments for the orbiting outpost.

Before Dragon can link up with the station, mission managers will run the vehicle's sensors and flight systems through a series of check outs. If all looks good, the capsule will slowly approach the space station until astronauts inside can reach out and grab it with the facility's robotic arm to connect it to the station's Harmony node.

The press conference will be broadcast live on NASA Television here: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.

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