October 8, 2009

SpaceX One Step Closer To First Launch

Space Exploration Technologies announced Wednesday that it plans to conduct a static fire testing of the first and second stages of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

The announcement comes just three days after SpaceX said it had successfully completed acceptance testing of both the Falcon 9 first and second stages in preparation for the first flight of Falcon 9.

Acceptance testing took place at the firm's McGregor, Texas structural and propulsion testing facility.

"The successful completion of these tests marks another key milestone in our preparation for Falcon 9's first flight," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "Our team will now move forward with a static fire of the first and second stages, the last major milestone before hardware is transferred to SpaceX's launch pad at Cape Canaveral."

SpaceX also said it expects Falcon 9's demonstration flight to take place one to three months after the launch vehicle arrives at Cape Canaveral next month.

"The actual launch date will depend on weather and how we fit into the overall launch schedule at the Cape, so that is a little harder to predict. Based on prior experience, launch could be anywhere from one to three months after Falcon 9 is integrated at the Cape in November," the company said in an update.

Additionally, the firm says its test flight will carry the Dragon spacecraft qualification unit, which will give engineers "aerodynamic and performance data for the Falcon 9 configuration."

"Though it will initially be used to transport cargo, the Dragon spacecraft was designed from the beginning to transport crew," said SpaceX. "Almost all the necessary launch vehicle and spacecraft systems employed in the cargo version of Dragon will also be employed in the crew version of Dragon."


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