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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket roars into space and delivered a Dragon cargo capsule into orbit on May 22, 2012.
The launch began an ambitious mission to show that the company is ready to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. As said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden the significance of this day cannot be overstated. While there is a lot of work ahead to successfully complete this mission, the start is good. Working with an instantaneous launch window, SpaceX, short for Space Exploration Technologies of Hawthorne, Calif., proceeded through a flawless countdown. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida came at 3:44 a.m. EDT, just as the station was crossing 249 miles above the North Atlantic. The launch came three days after the rocket aborted a previous launch attempt. Dragon is carrying about 1,200 pounds of supplies for the crew of the station and experiments designed by students. The spacecraft can hold 7,300 pounds of material for delivery to the station, but since this is a test flight, the manifest was limited to important but not critical materials. Food and clothing make up the bulk of the supplies. The launch put the Dragon on a course to rendezvous with the space station in three days. A detailed series of navigation and other systems tests will be performed in space before the capsule is allowed to move close enough to the station for astronauts to grab it with the robot arm and connect it to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module. The tests include a careful approach to the station that calls for the spacecraft to pause several times. The space station crew also will show that they can communicate directly with the uncrewed Dragon capsule. If all the testing goes well, they will go ahead with the rendezvous and berthing.
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