News / Science & Technology

SpaceX Makes First Cargo Delivery to Space Station

Michael Lipin, Suzanne PrestoChris Hannas
A capsule built by the first private company to fly to the International Space Station is on its way to the orbiting lab on the first official mission to deliver cargo.

California-based SpaceX launched its Dragon capsule late Sunday from Cape Canaveral on the U.S. Atlantic Coast.  The capsule is scheduled to dock with the space station early Wednesday as part of a $1.6 billion contract with the U.S. space agency NASA.

The mission follows a successful test delivery to the ISS in May.  SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said everyone feels better with each successful launch, but that getting to the space station is still a difficult task and a lot of work remains.

"We will learn from our flights and continue to improve the vehicle. Given that we are looking towards flying crew on these vehicles, we want to make sure that we address any and all items that we find and learn about the vehicle to make it even more reliable," said Shotwell.

Photo Gallery

  • This image from NASA-TV shows the capture of the Dragon capsule by a robot arm on the International Space Station as they passed over the South Atlantic Ocean early October 10, 2012.
  • A Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Space Complex 40, carrying a Dragon capsule to orbit, Cape Canaveral, Florida, October 7, 2012. (NASA/Gianni Woods)
  • A Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon capsule secured atop stands upright between the lightning masts on the pad at Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, October 7, 2012. (NASA/Jim Grossmann)
  • A Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon capsule secured atop rises into a vertical position between the lightning masts on the pad at Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, October 7, 2012. (NASA/Jim Grossmann)
  • A view from the ground looking up shows the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Dragon capsule attached after it was lifted into the vertical position during a rollout demonstration test, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida October 2, 2012. (NASA/Jim Grossm
  • SpaceX technicians inspect a Dragon spacecraft as it is being attached to its Falcon 9 launch vehicle, September 30, 2012. (NASA/Ben Smegelsky)
  • A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket being prepared for the company's first Commercial Resupply Services mission to send a Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, September 30, 2012. (NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

The Dragon is carrying 455 kilograms of supplies to the orbiting lab and is expected to carry almost double that amount of cargo back to Earth. The return cargo will include biological samples that have been collected and stored in the space station's freezers until they can be analyzed on the ground.

ISS Director Sam Scimemi called the Dragon's ability to return cargo to Earth "critical" to utilizing the space station.  Russia's Soyuz capsule is the only other spacecraft that returns anything to Earth from the station, and has little room for cargo because it is used for astronaut transport.

Scimemi said the the combination of government and private-sector capabilities gives the United States a strength that other nations do not have, and allows the U.S. to fulfill its leadership responsibilities for the space station program.

"It also provides the basis for SpaceX to do other things other than just going to the Space Station eventually, so we're looking forward to that as well," he said. "It's not just the government itself providing leadership, it is industry itself providing leadership as well, which is more than China or India or other countries are doing today."

The current mission is the first of 12 SpaceX supply flights to the orbiting lab under the NASA contract. The next one is scheduled for January of next year.  

The Dragon capsule is expected to return to Earth October 28.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Barrie from: Calgary, Alberta
October 08, 2012 1:48 PM
And another science fiction story becomes fact! Private space commerce has long been utilised in SF literature; it took a long time for private funding to reach critical mass.
Although there are many scientific questions that can be explored in zero-gee, being able to return samples of space rocks and other items to the planet's surface is important to expand our knowledge of this frontier.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs