SpaceX is preparing to fly its Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station
SpaceX is developing a reusable rocket that could carry astronauts to and from the orbiting outpost, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
The launch is planned for sometime in 2021, with a mission lasting about three years, the Journal reported.
The Falcon 9 will be powered by a liquid-fueled main engine, and the first stage would carry the capsule to the space station.
It would then launch into a high-altitude geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) orbit, where it would land in the Atlantic Ocean for a landing.
The new vehicle would be able to return to Earth safely, according the report.
The rocket is based on the Falcon 9 v1.1, which was launched in May and had already been certified to fly on the ISS.
SpaceX had initially planned to launch the vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
But the company announced last month that it would instead launch it from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The company’s Falcon 9 was one of the first vehicles to make use of the SpaceX Dragon capsule, which is capable of carrying six astronauts and up to six cargo spacecraft.
The first Dragon was launched from Vandenburg in June 2017, with the company then moving the Dragon to Cape Canaveral to begin launching payloads to the station in 2018.
SpaceX has also tested its Dragon capsule on the ground, but it has yet to fly a commercial mission.
It plans to begin flying astronauts to the orbiting lab later this year.
NASA has yet the launch schedule, but SpaceX has indicated that the vehicle could fly in 2021.
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