Friday, April 02, 2010

SpaceX now targeting May for first Falcon 9 launch

SpaceX is now targeting early May for an inaugural Falcon 9 launch, as it works to complete testing and Air Force analysis of the system that would destroy the rocket if it veered off course.

The Hawthorne, Calif.-based company last month completed a 3.5-second test firing of the Falcon 9's first-stage engines at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40.

The company is one of two commercial partners NASA has contracted with to deliver cargo to the International Space Station after the shuttle's retirement, along with Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va.

The first of three SpaceX demonstration flights under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS, program is targeted for July.

SpaceX also also plans to compete for the opportunity to ferry astronauts to the station in its Dragon capsule if President Obama's plan to abandon the Ares I rocket and Orion spacecraft is adopted in favor of privatized crew transportation.

Here's a short statement released by SpaceX, noting a planned launch attempt no earlier than May 8:

SpaceX is working closely with Ensign Bickford Aerospace & Defense Co., supplier of key components of the Flight Termination System (FTS) that will be used on Falcon 9, to complete testing of the FTS hardware and provide final data to SpaceX and Air Force Range safety officials for review and acceptance. Certification of the Falcon 9 FTS and subsequent range availability will put the first Falcon 9 test launch towards the latter half of the anticipated March-May window, with the first attempt no earlier than May 8, 2010.

IMAGE: SpaceX conducted a hot-fire test of its Falcon 9 first stage engines on March 13 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: Chris Thompson, SpaceX


jerry W said...

Tomorrow, tomorrow, is always just a day away.
Falcon9 Moto

Big Bubba said...

I am sure they will not launch when Obama is in town. It would not look good for his speach is something goes wrong. :(

Anonymous said...

And the delays go on...

Stephen C. Smith said...

Can't wait for Falcon 9 to soar majestically over the Atlantic and shove it in the face of all the hypocrites who scream "socialism!" at Obama but demand he protect their government jobs.

Anonymous said...

@ Stephen Smith:

You do understand it's just a redistribution of wealth right? Moving to a private commercial firm will increase costs due to overheads and profit so your net cost will be relatively the same. Since NASA is the only buyer in down for crew to orbit, where do you think all the money will come from for development? Just because a company puts some of its own money into it, you don't really think that they are going to just sit buy and lose all that money do you? They will wrap it in their costs to the buyer just like every other company does.

Bill Hensley said...

"Moving to a private commercial firm will increase costs due to overheads and profit so your net cost will be relatively the same."

You're joking, right? Total amount spent to date on Falcon 1, Falcon 9 and Dragon: less than $500 million. Total amount spent to date on Ares I/Orion: about $9 billion, with another $30 or $40 billion still to go. Whatever reasonable arguments you can muster against commercial crew, COST is not one of them! In fact, the extreme cost discrepancy is the single largest embarrassment to Constellation, bar none. Friend, if you want to argue in favor of keeping Constellation, COST is the last topic you want to bring up!

Harvey said...

Cost should NEVER be the determinant in manned space flight. The fact is that this is a clear loss of National Prestige to turn this program over to the private, for profit sector. Spacecraft are built by private companies, FOR NASA and the United States of America's Manned Space Exploration.

For profit companies running our space program? Yep a sure way for China, India, Russia and the European Space Agency to step out front for ever. But then perhaps a lot of the supporters of this idiocy foisted on this nation by Lori Garver, really don't give a darn about National pride and honor.

go figure.

Bill Hensley said...

On the contrary, Harvey, I care a great deal about national pride and honor. But it is bound up in what the nation as a whole accomplishes, not just the government. I don't understand your attitude. Do you not take pride in the accomplishments of American industry?

And you're simply wrong about costs. If the difference is between affordable (EELVs, SpaceX) and unaffordable (Constellation) then cost very definitely does matter. Projections for the development costs for Ares I/Orion are about FIFTY TIMES that of Falcon 9/Dragon. Isn't that just a bit embarrassing? Let's have a little pride!

Anonymous said...

Just remember, NASA did not build a single orbiter or SRB or fuel tank. American companies built them all. Credit where credit is due. The main problem with the way we have been doing it is that these companies all know how to game the system to make sure they get all the dollars they can!