SpaceX to launch key ‘parking spot’ to space station

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MIAMI, Florida: SpaceX is poised to launch its unmanned Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station on Monday, carrying a key piece of equipment that was lost last year in a rocket explosion. The international docking adapter will function as a parking spot for space taxis, enabling commercial spaceships carrying astronauts to latch on securely to the orbiting outpost. It is the first of two docking adapters needed for the crew spaceships being built by SpaceX and Boeing, with those pioneer commercial flights planned for 2017 and 2018. For Monday’s launch, the gumdrop-shaped Dragon spaceship is packed with nearly 5,000 pounds (nearly 2,300 kilograms) of gear, including science experiments and equipment for the astronauts living in space. After blasting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 12:45 a.m. (0445 GMT), SpaceX will attempt to return the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket to an upright landing on solid ground at the NASA facility.

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AFP

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