Space Exploration Technologies Corp. () has delivered to NASA a communications payload bound for the international space station that will support cargo deliveries to the orbital outpost by the company’s planned Dragon capsule, SpaceX said in a Sept. 1 press release.
The ultra-high frequency payload, built under SpaceX’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA, will be used for communications between the station, Dragon and ground controllers, the company said. The hardware, which also will enable station crews to monitor the unmanned Dragon’s approach to the station, was delivered to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for a mid-November launch aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis, SpaceX said.
Under the COTS program, NASA is paying SpaceX of Hawthorne, Calif., up to $278 million to demonstrate the Dragon logistics capsule, which the company will launch aboard its Falcon 9 rocket. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., is developing a competing cargo delivery system under a separate COTS agreement.
Both companies have contracts for actual space station logistics missions to the space station should their demonstrations prove successful.