Private US Firm Attempts Historic Space Launch

Posted May 19th, 2012 at 2:55 am (UTC-5)
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A U.S.-based firm is poised to make history on Saturday by becoming the first private company to send a craft to the International Space Station.

The SpaceX company is planning to launch an unmanned capsule, loaded with supplies for the space station, from Cape Canaveral, Florida .

In a Friday briefing, SpaceX president Gwynn Shotwell said the company hopes to become part of a small group that has docked crafts with the space station.

“There's only been four nations of groups or nations that have berthed or docked a space craft to the International Space Station. It's Europe, Russia, the United States, of course, and Japan. So, we really stand in awe of having the opportunity to attempt this.”

The company's Dragon Capsule is carrying 544 kilograms of cargo for what is considered a test flight.

The cargo is not considered essential for the space station crew.

On Thursday, a Russian spacecraft carrying an American and two Russians docked with the international orbiter. They joined three other crew members who were already on board.

SpaceX received more than $380 million in funding from the U.S. space agency, NASA, which retired its space shuttle fleet, last year.

If the launch is successful, the capsule is scheduled to dock with the space station on Thursday.