Nasa and SpaceX are about to launch a rocket that could mark the future of American spaceflight.
The two organisations will team up to blast the Crew Dragon spacecraft, on the top of a Falcon 9 rocket, as part of a major test.
Together, the two crafts could represent the future of missions carrying American astronauts.
If the test is successful, it will mark a major moment in American spaceflight. For years, the US has been unable to launch its own astronauts to the space station or anywhere else – instead relying on Russia to do so for them – and has been waiting and hoping for private solutions to the problem.
The historic launch will take place on 7 January, 2019, Nasa said.
“This will be the first uncrewed test flight of the Commercial Crew Program and will provide data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as on-orbit, docking and landing operations,” it said in an announcement.
“The flight test also will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying SpaceX’s crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the space station.”
No astronaut has been launched into space since 2011, when the Space Shuttle programme was retired. Since then, all launches have happened at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is run by Russia – a situation that has occasionally caused problems, such as fears that no missions would be able to launch after a major issue with a recent trip to the International Space Station.
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