SpaceX's Falcon 1 conducts firing, ready to launch from late July

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Image:Omelek Island.jpg
Astute readers might remember a post or a news story claiming that the next Falcon 1 flight would take place in late June, and it's already late June. The reason for that was that the U.S. military has been making use of the launch area, so it's not SpaceX's fault here. In the meantime they're conducting more tests, which can't be bad.

On the 25th they conducted a "full launch dress rehearsal and hold down firing" and there were no problems. Here's what the article says:

"We are definitely not tied to the clock for this launch, and we are checking and crosschecking every aspect of the vehicle and ground systems to ensure a successful mission," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "Our primary concerns remain the safety and reliability of our vehicle, and the successful delivery of the Defense Department and NASA satellites to orbit."

During launch, SpaceX will use the extensive range safety, tracking and telemetry services provided by the Reagan Test Site (RTS) at the United States Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) in the Central Pacific. RTS will be closed for the national Fourth of July holiday, and resumes operations on 24 July. The next launch window opens 29 July and runs through 6 August, followed by one from 29 August to 5 September.

There will of course be a live webcast when the Falcon 1 is launched and I'll be watching.

Just in case some don't know exactly what SpaceX is, it's a very important company for space development because it's a private rocket launching company that is focused on bringing down the cost of sending payloads to orbit, and the lower the cost, the more people/companies/countries can participate in sending up satellites, probes, etc. It's also important in that it's a private company, as private industry is waaaay bigger than government-funded programs, and if private industry begins to succeed in space we'll be on our way to much bigger and better things. Here's what SpaceX says about itself:

About SpaceX

SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles intended to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of both manned and unmanned space transportation ultimately by a factor of ten. With its Falcon line of launch vehicles, powered by internally developed Merlin engines, SpaceX is able to offer light, medium and heavy lift capabilities to deliver spacecraft into any altitude and inclination, from low-Earth orbit to geosynchronous to planetary missions. SpaceX currently has 14 missions on its manifest plus indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts with NASA and the US Air Force. As a winner of the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services competition (COTS), SpaceX is in a position to help fill the gap when the Space Shuttle retires in 2010. Under the existing contract, SpaceX will conduct three flights of its Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft for NASA, culminating in Dragon berthing with the International Space Station (ISS) and returning to Earth. NASA also has a contract option on Falcon 9 / Dragon to provide crew services to the ISS after Shuttle retirement.

By the way, the exact island where the launching takes place is called Omelek Island. It's the image up there.


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