The International Space Station, which orbits the Earth conducting research and making observations, has been enjoying freshly delivered cargo from the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. On Tuesday morning ISS will say goodbye to the vessel as it detaches and departs for Earth.
ISS is manned by a crew of six astronauts, who typically live on the ISS for four to six months at a time. In order to get food and supplies to the crew, regular deliveries are required.
In 2008, NASA awarded a contract to SpaceX, a commercial space flight company, which called for 12 flights to the ISS carrying cargo. The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is the vessel currently being used for cargo deliveries. In 2012, it became the first commercial spacecraft to take cargo to the ISS. Dragon has since made several successful subsequent deliveries.
In its most recent mission, Dragon arrived at the ISS on April 17 to deliver a shipment of supplies. After hanging around for a few days, the spacecraft is now ready to depart and head back to planet Earth.
NASA will air live coverage of the vessel’s release from the ISS on its NASA TV channels. To watch live, visit the NASA TV public channel. Coverage will start Tuesday, April 21 at 7 a.m. EST.
The NASA contract is an important one for SpaceX. Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk of PayPal and Tesla Motors fame, the private aerospace company has faced a number of setbacks in its ultimate mission to be able to send private citizens into space. NASA also awarded a contract to SpaceX to develop vessel capable of carrying human cargo to the ISS to transport crew members in a more efficient manner.
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