February 23, 2010

Tech Company Prepares To Test Rocket Booster In Florida

The tech company Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, moved its first Falcon 9 rocket at a new launch complex just south of the Kennedy Space Center, Discovery News reported.

The new Falcon 9 was trucked in just days before the space shuttle Endeavour touched down after returning from a 14-day construction mission at the International Space Station.

NASA will soon retire Endeavour and her sister ships Atlantis and Discovery, due to safety concerns and operating costs that eat about $3 billion a year.

Obama's administration instead wants to spend $6 billion over the next five years helping private launch companies like SpaceX develop the means to fly people into space.

This week, SpaceX is set to pump fuel through its Falcon 9 booster to test the rocket and its Florida launch team.

Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, who founded SpaceX, successfully delivered its first commercial satellite into orbit aboard the smaller Falcon 1 booster just last year -- making it the fifth launch for SpaceX.

The team earlier celebrated a successful test launch with a dummy payload but a trio of launches either failed or didn't reach orbit.

NASA administrator Charlie Bolden said last week that there's a lot riding on the maiden flight of Falcon 9.

SpaceX is also developing a capsule known as Dragon, which will carry cargo "” and possibly crewmembers "” to the space station.

Both SpaceX and another launch firm called Orbital Sciences Corp. already have deals with NASA to demonstrate their rockets and then fly cargo to the space station.

However, SpaceX's upcoming Falcon 9 flight demo is not associated with NASA. The test launch is being paid for by SpaceX and is targeted for no earlier than March 22.


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