SpaceX is working to deliver almost 1,200 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) during its demonstration flight under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) program, which has a 30 April Next Earliest Time (NET) launch date.
The image above shows work within the Dragon capsule’s pressurized cabin during the Crew Equipment Interface Test on 28 March 2012.
While the cargo is comprised of low value items that supplement the supplies delivered this past week by the Edoardo Amaldi the European Space Agency’s resupply vessel (ATV-3):
Josh Byerly, a NASA spokesperson, said that everything delivered to the ISS is important.
The launch is scheduled no earlier than 9:22 AM Phoenix time on 30 April (1622 UTC). Following the launch, the Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to rendezvous and dock with the ISS on 3 May 2012.
Since the Dragon is capable of returning to Earth, as is the Russian Soyuz manned vehicle, the astronauts aboard the ISS will load almost 1,500 pounds of equipment and science experiments for the return to Earth.
After a three week stay at the space station, Dragon will be released from its docked position and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and parachute into the Pacific Ocean of the coast of Baja California. Dragon will be recovered and returned to the SpaceX facility in California.
The first commercial flight under the $1.6 Billion dollar NASA contract to provide 44,000 pounds of material, equipment and supplies to the ISS should begin with a Dragon mission in 2012.
On Monday 16 April 2012, the Johnson Space Center in Houston will conduct a media briefing immediately upon the conclusion of the NASA Flight Readiness Review (FRR), which will be conducted by senior NASA managers, space station partners and SpaceX officials. The briefing will be carried live by NASA TV.