Monday, October 03, 2011

Commercial Flights To ISS Happening "Soon"

NASA said commercial flights to the International Space Station are not years away, but just months.
At least everyone hopes so.

SpaceX was planning to launch a final demonstration mission to dock with ISS in late November, but company CEO Elon Musk said late last week that mission was being pushed back to late December or early January. The reason is a technical one having more to do with scheduling flights than technical problems, but the effect is the same: doubt.
In the meantime, Russia is planning to resume manned launches to ISS in November, which would at least avoid the debacle of having to abandon the station due to an inability to get anyone up there.

The fact is, as least for now, space exploration remains dangerous, complicated and expensive, with rewards being mostly a measure of accomplishment. The commercialization of space, while worthy of investment, is still no guarantee of revenue. Most space exploration done today is done for the benefit of science and the advancement of human civilization--not so much for monetary gain. This has had a definite dampening effect on the surge of commercial space launch entrepreneurs we saw immediately after the launch of the X-Prize competition at the end of the 20th century.

However, companies like SpaceX has certainly shown their is some practical value to be had in commercial space endeavors. And whether they launch in November or January they fact they are so close to becoming the commercial space carrier we have all dreamed about is something worth crowing about.

SpaceX's next demonstration flight for NASA, once targeted for launch Nov. 30 from Cape Canaveral, is now planned no earlier than Dec. 19 and could move to next year.

The company cites ongoing technical preparations for the mission, which plans to berth an unmanned Dragon capsule at the International Space Station, and the need for NASA and international partners to confirm launch dates for Russian spacecraft following the loss of a Progress cargo ship in August.

The company has tentatively requested the December launch date from the Eastern Range but the mission's timing looks "more like January," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said last week during a speech in Washington, D.C.

"Our flight is one of many that have to be carefully coordinated, so the ultimate schedule of launches to the ISS is still under consideration," the company said in a statement.

Click here to read more about SpaceX.

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