With NASA out of the human spaceflight picture, for now, America needs a new way to get into space. For now the only answer seems to be private enterprise. In particular there’s the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, known more popularly as Space X. They’ve been gearing up for their first launch to the International Space Station and word is that they’re almost ready to start the countdown.
Space.com says that last week a SpaceX rocket went through launch checks including countdown procedures and fueling. The rocket passed with flying colors and now the company expects to actually launch its first test flight of the unmanned Dragon space capsule next month. It’ll be the first private spacecraft to visit the International Space Station, and hopefully mark the beginning of a whole new era in space travel and exploration.
During the test the Dragon capsule will actually dock with the Space Station and unload supplies. If it goes well, Space X will officially begin cargo delivery operations to fullfill its $1.6 billion cargo hauling contract with NASA.