TODAY: SpaceX to Make First Launch Attempt for COTS Demo 1

  • Source: SpaceX
  • Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2010
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Hawthorne, CA – Today SpaceX released the following information on today’s launch day activities for the first SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon demonstration launch for NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.

SpaceX will make its first launch attempt on TODAY, December 8th from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window extends from 9:03 AM to 12:20 PM. EST/ 6:03 AM to 9:20 AM PST. We are now counting down for a 9:06 AM EST attempt.

SpaceX has discovered the root cause of the two small cracks in the aft end of the 2nd stage engine nozzle extension. A GN2 vent line caused fluttering of the the thinnest portion of the nozzle extension, creating the cracks. SpaceX engineers repaired the extension by trimming off the end where the cracks are located and corrected the root cause by diffusing the vent.

SpaceX plans to launch its Dragon spacecraft into low-Earth orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The Dragon capsule is expected to orbit the Earth at speeds greater than 17,000 miles per hour, reenter the Earth’s atmosphere, and land in the Pacific Ocean roughly 3 1/2 hours later. This will be the first attempt by a commercial company to recover a spacecraft reentering from low-Earth orbit. It is a feat performed by only 6 nations or government agencies: the United States, Russia, China, Japan, India, and the European Space Agency.

It is also the first flight under NASA’s COTS program to develop commercial supply services to the International Space Station. After the Space Shuttle retires, SpaceX will fly at least 12 missions to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Resupply Services contract for NASA. The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft were designed to one day carry astronauts; both the COTS and CRS missions will yield valuable flight experience toward this goal.

Webcast The COTS Demo 1 launch will be webcast at www.spacex.com.

The webcast will begin approximately 45 minutes prior to the opening of the daily launch window, at 8:15 a.m. EST / 5:15 a.m. PST / 13:15 UTC. During the webcast, SpaceX hosts will provide information specific to the flight, an overview of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft and commentary on the launch and flight sequences.

Launch Day Viewing for Media U.S. media wishing to attend the launch day viewing must be credentialed through NASA following the instructions in the NASA advisory below. On launch day, the NASA News Center at the KSC press site will open at 6 a.m. For launch viewing, reporters and photographers will be taken to from the KSC press site to the NASA Causeway between stations C & D by bus. The bus will leave the press site for NASA Causeway at L-1 hour and will return to the press site once Falcon 9/Dragon are no longer visible.

Post-Mission News Conference

A post mission press conference will be held one to two hours after splashdown of the Dragon spacecraft at the press site at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Participants include:

* Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President
* Phil McAlister, NASA Commercial Space Flight Development Acting Director
* Alan Lindenmoyer, NASA Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Manager

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