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Space X Crew Capsule Successfully Docks at International Space Station

NASA has awarded millions of dollars to Space X and Boeing to design and operate a capsule to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil some time this year.

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In this image taken from NASA Television, SpaceX's new crew capsule approaches just before docking at the International Space Station, March 3, 2019. VOA

The first American commercially built-and-operated crew spacecraft in eight years docked successfully Sunday at the International Space Station.

There was, however, no crew aboard the spacecraft, just a test dummy named Ripley, in a nod to the lead character in the Alien movies.

The docking was carried out autonomously by the Crew Dragon capsule, as the three astronauts on board the International Space Station watched.

The Space X Crew Dragon capsule lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket early Saturday from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

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Currently, America relies on Russia to launch astronauts to the space station. Pixabay

The Dragon brought supplies and test equipment to the space station where it will spend five days as astronauts conduct tests and inspect the Dragon’s cabin.

NASA has awarded millions of dollars to Space X and Boeing to design and operate a capsule to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil some time this year.

It is not immediately clear whether that goal will be reached.

Space X is entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company. Musk is also the CEO of electric carmaker Tesla.

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Currently, America relies on Russia to launch astronauts to the space station.

Russia charges about $80 million per ticket. (VOA)

Next Story

Japan to Provide Low-Cost Rocket Services to Compete with US Rivals

Development of a low-cost commercial rocket is part of a growing international trend in the space business led by the U.S. and aggressively followed by China and others

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japan, rocket, spaceX
Japanese entrepreneur and Founder of Interstellar Technologies Inc. Takafumi Horie speaks during a press conference in Tokyo, May 15, 2019. VOA

A Japanese startup that launched a rocket into space earlier this month plans to provide low-cost rocket services and compete with American rivals such as SpaceX, its founder said Wednesday.

Interstellar Technology Inc. founder Takafumi Horie said a low-cost rocket business in Japan is well-positioned to accommodate scientific and commercial needs in Asia. While Japan’s government-led space programs have demonstrated top-level technology, he said the country has fallen behind commercially due to high costs.

“In Japan, space programs have been largely government-funded and they solely focused on developing rockets using the best and newest technologies, which means they are expensive,” Horie told reporters in Tokyo. “As a private company, we can focus on the minimum level of technology needed to go to space, which is our advantage. We can transport more goods and people to space by slashing costs.”

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Horie said his company’s low-cost MOMO-3 rocket is the way to create a competitive space business in Japan. VOA

Horie said his company’s low-cost MOMO-3 rocket is the way to create a competitive space business in Japan.

During its May 4 flight, the unmanned MOMO-3 rocket reached 113.4 kilometers (70 miles) in altitude before falling into the Pacific Ocean. The cost to launch the MOMO-3 was about one-tenth of the launch cost of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the country’s space agency, according to Interstellar CEO Takahiro Inagawa.

Horie said his company plans to launch its first orbital rocket — the ZERO — within the next few years and then it would technologically be on par with competitors such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and New Zealand engineer Peter Beck’s Rocket Lab.

spaceX, zero, momo-3 rocket
Horie said his company plans to launch its first orbital rocket — the ZERO — within the next few years and then it would technologically be on par with competitors such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX. VOA

The two-stage ZERO would be twice as long and much heavier than the compact MOMO-3, which is about 10 meters (32 feet) long and 50 centimeters (1.5 feet) in diameter and weighs about 1 ton. It would be able to send satellites into orbit or carry payloads for scientific purposes.

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Development of a low-cost commercial rocket is part of a growing international trend in the space business led by the U.S. and aggressively followed by China and others.

At home, Horie could face competition from space subsidiaries of major companies such as Canon and IHI, which have expertise from working with the government’s space agency. (VOA)