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First commercial spacecraft to dock with ISS in February

First commercial spacecraft to dock with ISS in February


Private space transportation company SpaceX has received permission from NASA to dock its Dragon capsule at the International Space Station. If the launch and docking are successful, the Dragon will be used to resupply the ISS in coming years.

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NASA has announced the launch date for what may be the final test of SpaceX's Dragon transportation spacecraft, which is slated to replace the retired US Space Shuttle. On February 7, the Dragon will approach the International Space Station, where crews will test its rendezvous capabilities. If all systems appear functional, the ISS will attempt to dock the Dragon. If the docking or any other part of the launch fails, a third demonstration will be scheduled.

A fully successful test would mark the first time a commercial flight has berthed at the ISS, and would also pave the way for the Dragon capsule to start resupplying and ferrying astronauts to the ISS. Currently, cargo is delivered by Russian spacecraft, but a growing number of private companies like SpaceX, which was created by Tesla and PayPal entrepreneur Elon Musk, are stepping up to fill the gaps in NASA's capabilities. Boeing has also signed a deal to develop a craft that will help service the ISS, and Blue Origin, founded by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, has received funds from NASA.