All Systems Go For First Private Spacecraft To Reach the Space Station

NASA and SpaceX have a date for the launch of the Dragon spacecraft that will reach the International Space Station: Saturday, May 19, from 4:55 AM ET/1:55 AM ET. It will be a historic moment. Here's what will happen:

Day 1

Dragon will launch on top of a Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Day 2

The spacecraft will orbit Earth en route to the International Space Station.

Day 3

Dragon will make sure its sensors and flight systems are go for docking during a series of intensive tests. This will put the spacecraft at 1.5 miles from the station.

Day 4

NASA will decide if Dragon can dock with the station. If the answer is yes, Dragon will approach the ISS to be captured by the latter's robotic arm and docked.

Day 5

Astronauts will open the Dragon's hatch, unload supplies and fill the Dragon with return cargo.

Two weeks later

Drago will detach from the ISS and return to Earth, landing in the Pacific a few hundred miles west of Southern California.

If all go as planned, this will be the first time in history a private spaceship has docked to the International Space Station, opening a new era in human exploration.