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SpaceX to try ISS launch on May 19

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Artist's rendition of the Dragon spacecraft at the International Space Station. A SpaceX photo.

WASHINGTON (AFP): SpaceX has said it will attempt to send a cargo -loaded spacecraft to the International Space Station on May 19 after a series of delays, the latest over software issues.

"SpaceX and NASA are nearing completion of the software assurance process, and SpaceX is submitting a request to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for a May 19th launch target with a backup on May 22," said spokeswoman Kirstin Grantham.

"Thus far, no issues have been uncovered during this process, but with a mission of this complexity we want to be extremely diligent."

SpaceX aims to be the first private company to send its own spacecraft to the orbiting research lab on a cargo mission.

The launch attempt has been repeatedly delayed, most recently from a planned April 30 launch date, and again on May 7.

Japan, Europe and Russia's space agencies all operate supply ships that can bring cargo to the ISS, but never before has a private company launched its own craft capable of toting both cargo and humans.

SpaceX made history with its Dragon launch in December 2010, becoming the first commercial outfit to send a spacecraft into orbit and back.

The Dragon spacecraft has also been built to carry humans to space, and the company, owned by Internet entrepreneur and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, hopes that a successful cargo trip to the ISS will soon lead to a manned mission.

The end of the 30-year US space shuttle program last year left Russia as the sole nation capable of sending astronauts to the ISS.

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SpaceX  ISS  Dragon  
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