Gallery: SpaceX's 1st Mission to Space Station - How It Works

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Step 1: Launch

Credit: SpaceX
Commercial space firm SpaceX plans to launch the first non-governmental spaceship to dock with the International Space Station May 19.

SpaceX's unmanned Dragon capsule is due to deliver food, supplies and science experiments to the orbiting laboratory as a test mission for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, aimed at spurring development of replacement cargo ferries for the retired space shuttles.

Here's how the robotic mission will play out:

The Dragon capsule is set to lift off aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. SpaceX has use of the facility's Space Launch Complex 40. The initial ascent is powered by Falcon 9's first stage, consisting of nine SpaceX Merlin 1C rocket engines.   Less «
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Clara Moskowitz, Assistant Managing Editor

Clara Moskowitz

Clara has been's Assistant Managing Editor since 2011, and has been writing for and LiveScience since 2008. Clara has a bachelor's degree in astronomy and physics from Wesleyan University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what her latest project is, you can follow Clara on .
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