After a drive across the country, a Dragon spaceship, designed and built by SpaceX, Elon Musk's aerospace company, arrived in Florida for launch on a mission to prove the private sector has the right stuff to take over a traditional government role of flying in orbit.
Dragon, which will be launched aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket from a revamped launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, will be carrying food, water and other non-essential supplies the International Space Station (ISS). The cargo needs to be "non-essential" because if Dragon doesn't make it through a series of in-orbit tests, it won't be cleared for docking at the station, tentatively targeted for four days after launch.
Nevertheless, SpaceX is confident it will become the first private company to fly to the outpost.
"We'll be prepared to go all the way to the station," company vice president for communications Bobby Block told a small group of reporters gathered Monday at SpaceX's Florida launch complex.
The company intends to be ready to fly as early as Dec. 19, though the NASA manager in charge of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program office Alan Lindenmoyer tells Discovery News he doubts the flight will take place before the end of the year.