SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is scheduled to be the first privately built spacecraft to visit the International Space Station (ISS).  Originally that launch was scheduled for 07 February 2012 however, it was recently delayed so SpaceX could do additional testing on the Dragon capsule.  Currently that launch has been targeted for late March 2012.

In an email to supporters Emily Shanklin, the SpaceX Director for Marketing and Communications, stated that their goal is to have a flawless mission to ISS and that the flight brings with it bigger challenges and complexities that they want to get right.

There will be challenges along the way, but SpaceX will again make history and become the first private company to send a spacecraft to the Space Station.  We take this responsibility very seriously and will not stop until we succeed.

Dragon is a spacecraft unlike any other.  Not only is it the first privately developed spacecraft to successfully return from Earth orbit, but it is also the only reusable spacecraft designed for human transport in operation today. In the coming days, we’ll take a closer look at some of Dragon’s advanced technologies in celebration of the Year of the Dragon and the opening of a new era in space travel.

Included in the email is a link to a webpage, which requires Flash, to check out an interactive panorama of the Dragon capsule in its cargo configuration.


Emily explains what you’re seeing as you check out the cargo area:

At the top you have the hatch that will connect with the International Space Station.  To the side is the hatch as well as racks and straps to hold cargo, which in our next mission will include several hundred pounds of astronaut provisions.  And on the floor, just above the heat shield, is additional storage space behind metal doors that are shown both open and closed.

SpaceX is run by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk.