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Friday 15 December 2017

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Commercial Space Program Success: A COTS Highlight Reel

A little more than two years after the end of the Space Shuttle Program, the United States now has two space transportation systems — SpaceX’s Falcon rocket and Dragon spacecraft and Orbital’s Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft — capable of delivering science experiments and supplies from U.S. soil to the International Space Station.

The commercial Dragon spacecraft, manufactured by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) of California, became the first private/commercial vehicle to visit and resupply the ISS during its May 2012 test mission. The latest new commercial space resupply vehicle, Cygnus, can carry 2,000 kilograms of cargo to the station. A slightly larger version capable of carrying an additional 700 kilograms is in development. Cygnus became the second dedicated service vehicle under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) project with it’s successful five-week demonstration mission in autumn of 2013.

NASA and its Commercial Crew Program partners also are working to develop the next generation of U.S. spacecraft and rockets capable of transporting humans to and from low-Earth orbit from American soil. NASA intends to use new commercial capabilities to fly U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station within the next four years.

Learn more about the cargo vehicles visiting the International Space Station: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/assembly_elements.html

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