Orbiting the Earth [video]

NASA footage of the Earth from orbit.


SpaceX, front-runner to replace retired NASA shuttles?

Dragon Spacecraft with Solar Panels deployed

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., also known as SpaceX plans to send a rocket to the International Space Station.

The goal would be to send an unmanned Dragon space capsule on a test mission to the ISS and dock with the station. If successful the mission would bring SpaceX closer to a $1.6-billion contract with NASA.

“NASA has given us a Nov. 30, 2011, launch date, which should be followed nine days later by Dragon berthing at the ISS,” the company said.

If the mission is a success SpaceX would become the front-runner for shuttling cargo and astronauts to the space station for NASA.

The Dragon capsule and 18-story Falcon 9 rocket is built by SpaceX in an old fuselage assembly building in Hawthorne. The building was once used by Boeing Co.’s to assemble 747 jumbo jets.

Dragon approaching International Space Station. Courtesy NASA

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