Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, has announced plans to launch its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft on May 7.
SpaceX had originally planned to launch the spacecraft next week, but it postponed the launch to give engineers more time to complete preflight testing and analysis. According to the company, the launch is set for 6:38 a.m. PT, weather permitting, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
If all goes well, SpaceX's spacecraft will be the first privately built and funded spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station. The goal is for SpaceX to conduct regular commercial cargo missions to the space station.
"It's almost like the lead-up to Apollo, in my mind," Mike Horkachuck, NASA's project executive for SpaceX, said in a statement yesterday. "You had Mercury then you had Gemini and eventually you had Apollo. This would be similar in the sense that, we're not going to the moon or anything as spectacular as that, but we are in the beginnings of commercializing space. This may be the Mercury equivalent to eventually flying crew and then eventually leading to, in the long run, passenger travel in space."
Earlier this week, SpaceX said that space station rendezvous requirements would be met on May 7, but not on May 8 or May 9. So, if something delays the launch on May 7, SpaceX will need to wait until May 10 at the earliest for another shot.