key supplier of future commercial launch services to NASA,

SpaceX, a key supplier of future commercial launch services to NASA, said it is targeting Friday (June 4) for the first launch of its Falcon 9 rocket.

The test flight of the medium-lift rocket has been delayed for at least a year. SpaceX engineers have been working with U.S. Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration officials over the last several weeks on range safety issues. The company (Hawthorne, Calif.) said Tuesday it expects to certify the Falcon 9’s self-destruct mechanism in time to attempt a launch from Cape Canaveral on Friday.

The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket being readied for launch

The "flight termination system" is needed should the 180-foot rocket veer off course after launch. SpaceX said other launch delays at Cape Canaveral in May had also pushed back the maiden flight of the Falcon 9. The Air Force finally got a new GPS satellite off the ground last week, freeing up a launch pad for the Falcon 9 launch. The rocket was scheduled to be rolled out to its launch pad and erected on Wednesday

The high-stakes test of the commercial rocket is designed to “collect as much data as possible, with success being measured as a percentage of how many flight milestones we are able to complete in this first attempt,” SpaceX said in a statement. One goal is to achieve orbital velocity of 17,500 miles per hour.

The Falcon 9 also has become the focal point of a debate over whether commercial launchers can be used to safely ferry cargo, and eventually humans, to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. SpaceX has continually stressed the need for reliability in its rocket design, but critics counter that NASA is throwing away years of launch experience in order to foster a commercial launch industry.

The Obama administration views the Falcon 9 and other commercial launchers as the best way to maintain U.S. access to space. It has proposed that NASA shift its priorities away from low-Earth orbit missions to developing new technologies like a heavy-lift rocket that could again take humans beyond Earth orbit.

SpaceX said the launch window for the Falcon 9 will open at 11 a.m. eastern on Friday and extend for four hours. If technical glitches or weather delay the launch, SpaceX said it will try again on Saturday (June 5).

The two-stage rocket is powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene. It weighs 735,000 pounds. A cluster of nine Merlin first-stage engines designed by SpaceX can generate over 1.1 million pounds of thrust.

0 Response to "key supplier of future commercial launch services to NASA,"