Saturday, October 23, 2010

SpaceX now targeting Nov. 18 for first COTS demo flight

SpaceX has pushed back the target date for its first NASA demonstration flight by 10 days, to Nov. 18.

The planned launch of a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will be the first in a NASA program testing the vehicles' readiness to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX had been targeting Nov. 8 for the first mission under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, or COTS.

No reason was immediately given for the delay, which pushes the mission behind the next shuttle flight and the launch of a spy satellite by a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy. Those launches are targeted for Nov. 1 and Nov. 15, respectively.

Before the launch, SpaceX plans to test the rocket's nine first stage engines with a brief firing at Launch Complex 40. A new date for the static fire and a launch window were not immediately confirmed.

The window planned Nov. 8 ran from 9:30 a.m. to 12:52 p.m. The static fire was scheduled five days earlier.

The mission known as COTS-1 plans to orbit an operational Dragon vehicle for the first time, circling Earth one to three times before splashing down off the coast of Southern California.

NASA and SpaceX plan at least one or two more demonstration missions that will culminate in a Dragon docking at the space station. Then SpaceX will begin to execute a $1.6 billion contract awarded in December 2008 for 12 resupply flights.

IMAGE: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral on its maiden voyage on June 4, 2010. Photo Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX.


Anonymous said...

Go SpaceX!! Best of luck on your demonstration flight!!

windbourne said...

Take your time folks.
Best of luck indeed.

Anonymous said...

I think this is one of the few times imo when privatization is a really good idea. Whether we think it’s necessary or not, we need to continue to develop new forms of space travel and technology to facilitate it. What the ppl whose only argument is “we have too many problems down here to be worrying about this,” they fail to understand the two most important implications of aeronautical research. The first is for national defense… it’s bad enough that nasa has to rely on Russia to ferry them to the ISS. If we keep going at this rate, our disadvantage will only grow as they continue to develop new technologies in their space program while we pump the brakes on ours. Is air and space superiority something you really want the Russians to have? It doesn’t seem like a good idea for any one country to have, let alone one whom we have a sketchy history with. The second is that with aeronautical research comes a flood of new technologies, most of which are very applicable to us down on earth. For example, if it wasn’t for nasa, we wouldn’t have the chips that we use for non-invasive biopsies, solar energy, and a whole litany of other things ( has a good number of inventions that most of us don’t know came from our space program). And if you’re one of those ppl that are so skeptical (or cynical imo) that you still don’t think that any of the things on this list warrant a larger investment in a privatized space industry, just remember that while you sleep at night, you most likely have nasa to thank for that, too. If you use any type of home security system, chances are they use infrared and laser technology that came out of nasa’s research (just look at the adt home security infrared camera page. They even admit that the technology came from nasa!)