After a few delays, the launch of the Dragon capsule to the International Space Station is scheduled for 3:55 a.m. CDT tomorrow morning. This mission is designed to verify that the Dragon capsule, built by the private firm SpaceX, can interface with the docking systems of the ISS in a safe and reliable way, and that the capsule is up to the task of maneuvering in low Earth orbit.
Launching rockets to intercept fast-moving objects such as the International Space Station (doing 17,000 miles per hour) requires incredibly precise timing. Tomorrow's "instantaneous" launch window means the rocket must go at that minute, or the launch is scrubbed. A May 22 launch window is being held as a backup.
This launch marks yet another exciting milestone in recent human space exploration. It also follows on the heels of the announcement of the formation of an asteroid mining company: Planetary Resources Inc. With more than seven months remaining, 2012 is shaping up to be an exciting year for space exploration.
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