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SpaceX rocket ready for launch


CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - OCTOBER 07: People watch as a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket attached to the cargo-only capsule called Dragon is raised into launch position as it is prepared for a scheduled evening launch on October 7, 2012 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket will bring cargo to the International Space Station that consists of clothing, equipment and science experiments.



A privately owned rocket is waiting on the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center, ready to take off on it's first flight at 8:35pm Sunday night. 

Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX for short, is under contract with NASA to have its Falcon 9 rocket with its unmanned Dragon capsule carry cargo to the International Space Station, reports AP. 

NASA is starting a new era of space travel, where private companies are under contract to ship supplies and people back and forth from the space station. 

California-based SpaceX inked a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to embark on a dozen resupply missions. This Dragon capsule will carry about 1,000 pounds of food, clothes, experiments and equipment, reports AP.

Space enthusiasts will be on edge waiting to see if the mission is successful. SpaceX already chalked up one victory in May when another Dragon capsule berthed at the station on a test mission and safely returned to Earth, reports CNN. 

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told CNN that Sunday's mission will be essentially the same as the test mission except "that we got there once" already. 

"We demonstrated we could do it, so there might be a teeny, teeny bit of relaxation," Shotwell told reporters Saturday night. "Not a lot, though."

The Dragon capsule is scheduled to arrive at the station on Wednesday and will stay docked at the space station for a few weeks.

“It actually marks the beginning of true commercial spaceflight to take cargo to the International Space Station for us,” Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., the NASA administrator, told the New York Times during a video chat on Google Plus on Friday.

SpaceX's capsules have a leg up on the competition from private companies in Russia, Europe and Japan. 

The Dragon capsules are able to bring supplies back from the space station. This Dragon mission will bring back supplies by parachuting into the Pacific Ocean at the end of October.

The other cargo ships aren't able to bring anything back because they are destroyed on re-entry. 

In addition to cargo, SpaceX plans to upgrade its Falcon 9 rocket to accommodate people within three to four years, reports the New York Times.