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First private spaceship launch rescheduled to May 7

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An artistic conception of the Dragon spaceship. A SpaceX photo

WASHINGTON (BNS): The first-ever flight of a private spaceship to the International Space Station has been delayed for a second time even as private space firm SpaceX has test-fired its Falcon 9 rocket ahead of the May 7 launch.

The launch of SpaceX's unmanned Dragon capsule to the orbital outpost, originally scheduled for February 7 this year and later rescheduled for April 30, is now being planned for May 7 lift off.

The Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off with the Dragon spaceship from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 9.38 am EDT (1338 GMT) which is a single instantaneous launch opportunity, according to NASA, which is coordinating with SpaceX for the vital mission.

Ahead of the launch, SpaceX on Monday successfully conducted static firing of the Falcon 9's nine powerful engines as part of a full launch dress rehearsal.

The Dragon spaceship's rendezvous mission with the ISS, if successful, will pave the way toward regular operational commercial cargo missions to the orbital laboratory.

The spacecraft will not have any crew but will carry about 1,200 pounds of cargo for the astronauts currently living on board the space station.

The spacecraft will be berthed to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node of ISS. The mission will last for about 21 days, a NASA official associated with the project said.

During the flight, Dragon will conduct a series of check-out procedures that will test and prove its systems ahead of its rendezvous with the ISS.

If the mission is successful, the Dragon is expected to become operational and launch regular supply runs to the ISS. Unlike any other cargo carrier, the Dragon can bring things back to Earth, too, a boon for scientists whose research is taking place on the orbiting laboratory, NASA said.

The Dragon capsule made the world's first private trip to orbit Earth and back in December 2010 aboard the Falcon 9 rocket. The mission had established SpaceX as the first private company to launch and recover a spacecraft from orbit.

The Falcon 9 and Dragon systems are developed with the help of private-public partnership.

With retiring its space shuttle fleet, NASA is currently looking to private companies to handle space station supply runs and astronaut rides.

SpaceX along with other private US space firms is competing to fly spacecraft and astronauts to the ISS.

Tags:

SpaceX  Dragon  Falcon 9  ISS  
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