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Monday, April 16, 2012

Dragon Launch Campaign for April 30 a GO!

As this computer animation shows, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on approach to  the International Space Station, with Canadarm2 grappling the capsule in free flight and docking it to the Station. At the end of its mission, Canadarm2 will undock and release Dragon for its return to Earth, where it will then be retrieved and reused.

"Everything looks good as we head toward the April 30 launch date," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, but cautioned more work remains before the launch can be finalized. There is a good chance to make the 30th," said the spaceflight  mission planning veteran, adding that a final decision is expected by April 23, quoted by AFP.

If successful with the April 30, 2012 launch and the May 2nd docking, it will be the first time a commercial American robotic spacecraft has ever flown to the International Space Station, notes MSNBC and  The spacecraft will remain docked at the ISS for a few weeks before attempting a controlled splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

The vehicle has been given a  has been given tentative clearance to launch thew Falocon 9 rocket booster with the Dragon spacecraft on 30 April at 12:22 EDT (16:22 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida following a Flight Readiness Review (FRR) Monday, April 16, 2012.  If mostly successful, the flight will go down in the annals of space history, most likely marking a new era in commercial spaceflight.

Musk voiced cautious optimism that the attempt would work, noting that the company has launched the Falcon 9 rocket twice before and successfully sent its Dragon capsule into orbit and back once. "I think we have a got a pretty good shot but it is worth emphasizing that there is a lot that can go wrong on a mission like this," SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk said.

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