Nasa confirms next SpaceX mission date

2014-02-06 13:01
The Dragon capsule captured by a robot arm on the International Space Station as they passed over the South Atlantic Ocean. (Nasa, AP, file)

The Dragon capsule captured by a robot arm on the International Space Station as they passed over the South Atlantic Ocean. (Nasa, AP, file)

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Washington - The next cargo supply mission to the International Space Station by the US company SpaceX has been set for 16 March, Nasa said on Wednesday.

SpaceX's unmanned Dragon capsule will launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 04:41 (09:41 GMT) on its third trip ferrying supplies and equipment to the orbiting lab, the US space agency said in a tweet.

Owned by internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, SpaceX became the first commercial entity to reach the space station with its Dragon cargo ship in 2012.

The company has a $1.6bn contract with Nasa for a series of future supply missions.

The Dragon, a reusable, gumdrop-shaped capsule, became the first commercial spacecraft to reach the ISS in 2012.

Since then, Orbital Sciences has also successfully reached the space lab with its own beer-keg shaped Cygnus spacecraft, which delivers similar loads of cargo but then burns up on re-entry to Earth's atmosphere.

Orbital has a contract with Nasa worth $1.9bn for eight cargo resupply missions to the global space lab.

The pair of private companies has restored the United States' ability to reach the ISS after the retirement of the 30-year space shuttle programme in 2011.

Both capsules can carry thousands of pounds of gear, including hardware, equipment and science experiments.

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