Space.com (December 14, 2009)
"The commercial spaceflight company Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) said this month that it expects to launch its cargo-carrying Dragon spacecraft on a maiden flight to the International Space Station (ISS) sometime between May and November 2010.
"The Hawthorne, Calif.-based company said it conducted the first Dragon operations training session with NASA astronauts in October to bring them up to speed on how the station crew will interface with the capsule while it is approaching and berthed to the station.
" 'Three of the participating astronauts - Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Shannon Walker and Douglas Wheelock — will be on board the ISS when Dragon makes its first visit under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program,- SpaceX officials said in a recent statement...."
SpaceX's Dragon is a reusable spacecraft, that will, if all goes well, be "used for Earth to LEO transport of pressurized cargo, unpressurized cargo, and/or crew members...." (DRAGON OVERVIEW, SpaceX)
Looks like there won't be that much of a gap in cargo runs to the ISS, after all.
Heavy-lift reusable vehicles are another matter, but I suspect someone will work out a commercially-feasible design.
There's a Dragon launch planned for early 2010: but that vehicle won't go near the ISS.
Exciting times, these that we live in.
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