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Saturday, 10 April 2010 22:56

Private Falcon 9 rocket prepares for launch


With Obama and Congress still unsure about how NASA should proceed with its manned space program, NASA continues with privately funded companies as a way to transport cargo and astronauts back and forth into space. As of April 2010, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is preparing for its maiden launch from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 30.



Following a successful firing of its nine Merlin engines at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), or 1730 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), on Saturday, March 13, 2010, the rocket is preparing for its maiden voyage sometime in May, but no earlier than May 8, 2010.

For additional information on the March 13 test firing, please read the SpaceflightNow.com article 'Falcon 9 rocket engines briefly ignite on launch pad.'

The Falcon 9 rocket is a reusable two-stage rocket that uses liquid oxygen (LOX) and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) as its fuel.


Falcon 9 is manufactured by U.S. space transportation company Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX).

Founded by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, the SpaceX headquarters is in Hawthorne, California.


Page two continues with information about the Dragon capsule that SpaceX is also developing.



Musk hopes to be able to transport cargo and crew back and forth between Earth and the International Space Station (ISS), or other low-Earth orbit locations.

Besides the Falcon 9 rocket, the company is also developing the Dragon spacecraft, which is designed to carry seven astronauts into space, or a combination of astronauts and cargo.

SpaceX is currently under contract with NASA to provide unmanned cargo mission to the ISS through the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement.

The company has also contracted for the rights of NASA's Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The first launch of Falcon 9 will be a test mission, for a target altitude of about 155 miles above Earth's surface.


The not-earlier-than May 8, 2010 launch date was announced on April 2, a delay from the not-earlier-than-April 12, 2010 launch data.

For information on the new launch date of April 12, please read the April 3, 2010 SpaceNews.com article 'SpaceX Slips Falcon 9 Launch to May.'


Page three concludes with the future of SpaceX, Falcon 8, and the Dragon.



Within the SpaceNews article, SpaceX officials stated that, 'Certification of the Falcon 9 FTS [Flight Termination System] 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."

And, for additional information on the future of Falcon 9 and the Dragon spacecraft, please read the January 12, 2009 NASAspaceflight.com article 'Musk ambition: SpaceX aim for fully reusable Falcon 9.'

The article begins, 'SpaceX chief Elon Musk has spoke of his desire to make Falcon 9 the first fully reusable launch vehicle, which he would 'love' to include a flyback first stage. Musk also noted he is aiming for Falcon 9 to launch in under 60 minutes from the moment they leave their hangers.'

The rocket and spacecraft being developed by SpaceX is one of the more important hopes that NASA has for providing a privately-funded organization to transport cargo and humans back and forth to low-Earth orbit, and especially to the International Space Station.


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