updated 10:20 am EDT, Tue May 22, 2012
Demo mission still requires NASA permission to dock with ISS
Space X has launched its Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station (ISS), aiming to become the first private company to take on the task. While the live webcast of the launch and flight is now finished, a recap is available online and it can be also be watched below, although from a different source. The unmanned mission will take a few days to reach the space station, and eventually, the plan is to offer space travel to Mars as well.
An earlier flight of the rocket from a few days ago was cancelled. Called COTS Demo 2, the mission is a demonstration or test flight one that aims to accomplish a number of tasks. After launching from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, it will orbit the Earth on the second day, with sensor and flight system checks scheduled for day three, which will take place within 1.5 miles of the ISS. Day four will see NASA deciding whether Dragon can dock with the ISS. Once approved, the ISS' robotic arm will capture the capsule and attach it to the station. The next few days will see the ISS crew unload the Dragon and fill it with cargo to take back to Earth. About two weeks after docking, Dragon will return to earth, with a planned landing of a few hundred miles west of Southern California.
Updates will be available on SpaceX and NASA, along with their respective and various social site pages.