WASHINGTON: A Space Exploration Technologies Corp. rocket lifted off today in the company’s second attempt to send the first commercial vehicle to the International Space Station.
The closely held company, known as SpaceX and controlled by billionaire Elon Musk, launched the Falcon 9 rocket at 3:44 a.m. from Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX will make history if its unmanned Dragon capsule docks at the station as scheduled on May 25, delivering more than 1,000 pounds of food, clothing and lab equipment.
A successful mission may ease concern that turning the space program over to the private sector is too risky, according to Michael Ciarmoli, an analyst with Cleveland-based KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc. The federal government retired its own shuttle fleet last year and wants US companies to take over the job of servicing the space station.
Today’s liftoff followed a planned May 19 launch that was called off with a half second left in the countdown. The problem was traced to a faulty engine valve.
The capsule is to spend the first 24 hours essentially catching up to the station. On May 24, it’s scheduled to perform a fly-by at a distance of 1.5 miles to test sensors and flight systems before attempting to dock early May 25. (Bloomberg/T05/aph)
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