SpaceX Dragon spacecraft certified by US Federal Aviation Administration

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Artist's rendering of a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft approaching the International Space Station.
Image: NASA.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., a commercial spaceflight company better known as SpaceX, has received Federal Aviation Administration certification for its Dragon spacecraft. This certification, the first of its kind granted by the FAA, serves as a commercial license to re-enter a spacecraft from earth orbit.

According to NASA administrator Charlie Bolden, "With this license in hand, SpaceX can proceed with its launch of the Dragon capsule. The flight of Dragon will be an important step toward commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station." NASA is contracting SpaceX to provide commercial transport of future crews and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).

The maiden launch of the Dragon spacecraft is currently scheduled for December 7. The launch vehicle will be the Falcon 9 rocket, which made its maiden flight in June. During this first flight, the Dragon capsule is to launch, orbit the earth, and splash down in the Pacific Ocean.

"Milestones are an important part of space exploration and SpaceX achieved a very important one today," according to NASA official Doug Cooke, "I congratulate SpaceX on this landmark achievement and wish them the best with their launch of the Dragon capsule."