One small step in May is poised to turn into one giant leap for space capitalism as NASA approved the Sunday evening launch of SpaceX's Dragon capsule. The scheduled trip comes just a little over four months after the project successfully completed a docking test by the unmanned private spacecraft with the International Space Station. The Sunday flight -- dubbed CRS-1 -- will have the Dragon capsule piggybacking on a Falcon 9 rocket to punch through the atmosphere while carrying more than a thousand pounds of cargo. The capsule will then dock with the station for about three weeks before being sent back to Earth to deliver more than a ton of scientific samples and used hardware from the ISS. The launch is scheduled for 8:35PM ET from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station barring a tantrum from Mother Nature (we've also seen our share of aborted SpaceX Dragon launches before so we're keeping our proverbial fingers crossed). NASA says that Orbital Sciences' competing Cygnus spacecraft and Antares rocket will also make a demo flight later this year.
[Image credit: Jim Grossmann, NASA]