NASA announced today that it has set Sunday, October 7th as the launch date for the next SpaceX mission to the International Space Station. The mission, which will be the first of 12 currently scheduled under the Commercial Resupply Contract is set to lift off at 8:34 PM Eastern Daylight Time, with a backup slot available for the following evening. The Dragon capsule is expected to be berthed to the station’s Harmony module on October 10th and remain attached through the end of the month.
The upcoming mission will mark the fourth flight of the Falcon 9, the third launch of a recoverable Dragon capsule, and a major milestone in NASA’s program to turn station re-supply over to the private market. With the orbiting outpost expected to remain active at least through 2020, and roughly 27 unassigned cargo flights in the 2015 to 2020 time frame, the station is entering a new era. If the space agency chooses to extend the COTS / CRS approach to those unassigned flights, the necessity of re-supply to ISS may provide additional leverage in reducing the costs of operations in LEO.