It would be the first test of this type. The space agency announced that there is “good chance "that the company SpaceX launches the capsule Dragon on April 30.
"All is well as we approach the release date”, said Bill Gerstenmaier, head of NASA's space program, but warned that much remains to be done before the game. "There are good possibilities," he said Monday during a press conference in which he said was "impressed by the work done".
Gerstenmaier was speaking after a meeting of more than four hours in the NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas, between those responsible for the mission of NASA and the firm Space Exploration Technologies (Space).
The expert said that a new meeting scheduled for April 23 to revisit the preparations for this first test flight of the capsule Dragon SpaceX, to give final green light to launch.
Among other things, NASA engineers verify SpaceX software to ensure compatibility with International Space Station (ISS, for its acronym in English).
The launch of the Dragon capsule, propelled by the rocket Falcon 9 SpaceX is scheduled from the air base of Cape Canaveral, Florida near the Kennedy Space Center of NASA.
The Dragon capsule, which weighs about six tons and is 5.2 meters high and 3.6 meters in diameter-will, if all goes as planned, the first private spacecraft to dock with the ISS. To do this, astronauts aboard the space station will use the robotic arm to access the Dragon capsule.
The dragon will do the same maneuvers closer to the ISS cargo spacecraft automatic ATV and European HTV Japanese performing before docking, the ISS fly over a distance of 2.5 kilometers, then approaching.
After the mission, Dragon will disengage to return to Earth, its scheduled landing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.
Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, who made his fortune on the internet with the firm PayPal, acknowledged during a press conference the difficulty of a link between the two spacecraft, while the ISS and Dragon advance each at 27,000 kilometers per hour. "I think it's important to realize that it is complicated," he said.
But he said cautiously optimistic about the chances of success of the coupling, and noting that SpaceX Falcon 9 launched successfully on two occasions, in addition to orbit the Dragon and return to Earth's atmosphere in 2010, a milestone for the private sector.
In case of failure, SpaceX provides a second test flight to the ISS.
In the end, in July 2011, the program three decades of U.S. space shuttles, which helped build the International Space Station, NASA, now believes that the private sector to perform at a lower cost sourcing and transporting astronauts to the orbital station.
The idea is that from now on the U.S. space agency is fully engaged in the exploration of deep space.
For the shipment of cargo to the ISS, NASA has selected, in addition to SpaceX, to Orbital Sciences Corporation, under a contract estimated at 3,500 million dollars.
NASA also distributed $ 270 million to companies considered most promising for the shuttle astronauts. These are in addition to SpaceX, Boeing, Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin.
Since the last space shuttle flight in July 2011, NASA has depended, at least until 2015, the Russian spacecraft Soyuz to transport astronauts to the ISS.