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April 16, 2012

Coverage Set for NASA/SpaceX Launch and Mission to Space Station

Following the completion of NASA's flight readiness review, the second SpaceX demonstration launch for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program is scheduled for Monday, April 30. A Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule will liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. There is a single instantaneous launch opportunity at 12:22 p.m. EDT.

"Everything looks good as we head toward the April 30 launch date," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, but cautioned more work remains before the launch can be finalized.

"There is a good chance to make the 30th," said Gerstenmaier, adding that a final decision is expected by April 23.

The main goals of SpaceX's flight include a fly-by of the ISS and a berthing operation in which the company's reusable space craft, the Dragon, will approach the ISS and the crew aboard the orbiting outpost will use the ISS robotic arm to help it latch on.

The gumdrop-shaped Dragon capsule will carry 521 kilograms (1,148 pounds) of cargo for the space lab and will also aim to return a 660 kg (1,455 lb) load to Earth, said Michael Suffredini, International Space Station program manager.

Suffredini added that the remaining work includes some verification procedures and coordination of hardware and software, in what he described as "the last little bit of testing."





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