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Dragon capsule shoots for the stars

[ 2012-10-09 10:45] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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A cargo-laden capsule was on its way to the International Space Station on Monday - on NASA's first privately run supply mission - after a successful blast-off atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

The capsule, named Dragon, reached orbit and spread its two wing-like solar antennas 10 minutes after the rocket pierced the night sky over the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, late on Sunday.

The mission - the first of 12 planned trips in the US firm's $1.6 billion contract with NASA - is a milestone for US efforts to privatize the space industry, in hopes of reducing costs and spreading them among a wider group than governments alone.

"We're handing off to the private sector our transportation to the International Space Station so that NASA can focus on what we do best: Exploring even deeper into our solar system with missions to an asteroid and Mars on the horizon," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said at a news conference.

The capsule, loaded with 400 kg of supplies, is set to reach the space station on Wednesday, where it will dock with the help of the orbiting outpost's robotic arm and two of the station's six crew members.

The craft will then spend 18 days there before splashing back down off the coast of southern California on Oct 28, carrying about 760 kg of supplies, hardware, and scientific tests and results.

SpaceX's craft is the only one currently in operation that can bring cargo back to Earth.

The company, owned by billionaire Paypal co-founder Elon Musk, is one of several private firms working with the US space agency to send flights to and from the space station.


1. What is the name of the capsule?

2. Where did it take off from?

3. How much is the firm’s contract with NASA worth?


1. Dragon.

2. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

3. $1.6 billion.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Dragon capsule shoots for the stars

About the broadcaster:

Dragon capsule shoots for the stars

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.