Friday, May 21, 2010

Falcon Test Flight Next Week: Or, Not

"New Private Rocket Poised for First Launch" (May 20, 2010)

"A brand new rocket that may one day launch the first commercial spaceship to carry people to orbit could make its first test as soon as May 28 according to the U.S. Air Force, has learned.

"The Falcon 9 rocket, built by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., already has a contract with NASA to haul cargo to the International Space Station. Eventually, it could be modified to launch humans as well, company officials said.

" 'We've been thinking about crew from the very beginning,' said Ken Bowersox, SpaceX vice president of astronaut safety and mission assurance...."

That "as soon as May 28" is optimistic, as the article points out a few paragraphs later. But this is a test flight, and delays - unexpected or otherwise - are part of the process.

"...When the test flight does take place, the launch team isn't sure what to expect, since this will be the first countdown of an untried rocket.

" 'There is a good chance of seeing an anomaly (vehicle or ground side) on the first flight countdown that we have to investigate,' SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told

"If all does go well, though, the second Falcon 9 launch could be the first SpaceX flight to carry real cargo and begin delivering supplies to the space station.

"Whatever happens, anticipation is mounting within the relatively small, upstart company.

" 'Folks are getting very excited,' Bowersox said. 'It will be the culmination of years of work on our big rocket.' "

Like I've said before: the end of the space shuttle program is more of a beginning than an end.

Related post:More:More

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