Jun 04, 2012 6:41 PM GMT
With the success of what amounted to a trial run for the spacecraft — there were only a few minor problems during the mission, which began when the Dragon was launched atop a SpaceX rocket from Florida on May 22 — the company is now poised to begin regular supply missions, with much bigger payloads, to the space station later this year. Since the space shuttle program ended last year, the station has been resupplied by Russian and European spacecraft.
So far, SpaceX has been the most successful participant in the government’s long-term plan to shift the business of spaceflight to private enterprise, with NASA acting only as managers. The agency’s $1.6 billion contract with the company for 12 supply flights still awaits final approval, but Alan J. Lindenmoyer, NASA’s manager for commercial spaceflight, said at the news conference that he expected the approval to come quickly.
“We became your customer today,” Mr. Lindenmoyer said.