In a processing facility at Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, a cargo container is lifted toward the open hatch of a Dragon capsule. The Dragon is set to launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.
The new rocket and capsule were designed and manufactured by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, for the company’s upcoming demonstration test flight for NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS, program. Under COTS, NASA has partnered with two private companies to develop the capability to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. During the flight, SpaceX's Dragon capsule will conduct a series of checkout procedures that will test and prove its systems. These tests include rendezvous and berthing with the space station and are intended to lead to regular resupply missions to the station. Liftoff is targeted for April 30 at 12:22 p.m. EDT pending official approval at the Flight Readiness Review on April 16. For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/cargo/spacex_index.html. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston