Space - The Final Frontier
A Press Release from my brother-in-law's employer:
SPACEX ANNOUNCES FINAL ARRIVAL OF FALCON 9 FLIGHT HARDWARE AT CAPE CANAVERAL IN PREPARATION FOR INAUGURAL LAUNCH
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation - Updates
Hawthorne, CA (February 11, 2010) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces that all flight hardware for the debut launch of the Falcon 9 vehicle has arrived at the SpaceX launch site, Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Final delivery included the Falcon 9 second stage, which recently completed testing at SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas. SpaceX has now initiated full vehicle integration of the 47 meter (154 feet) tall, 3.6 meter (12 feet) diameter rocket, which will include a Dragon spacecraft qualification unit.
"We expect to launch in one to three months after completing full vehicle integration," said Brian Mosdell, Director of Florida Launch Operations for SpaceX. "Our primary objective is a successful first launch and we are taking whatever time necessary to work through the data to our satisfaction before moving forward."
Following full vehicle integration, SpaceX will conduct a static firing to demonstrate flight readiness and confirm operation of ground control systems in preparation for actual launch.
Though designed from the beginning to transport crew, SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft will initially be used to transport cargo. Falcon 9 and Dragon were selected by NASA to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) once Shuttle retires. The $1.6B contract represents 12 flights for a minimum of 20 tons to and from the ISS with the first demonstration flights beginning in 2010.
SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles and spacecraft intended to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of both manned and unmanned space transportation, ultimately by a factor of ten. With the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 vehicles, SpaceX offers highly reliable/cost-efficient launch capabilities for spacecraft insertion into any orbital altitude and inclination. Starting in 2010, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will provide Earth-to-LEO transport of pressurized and unpressurized cargo, including resupply to the International Space Station (ISS).
Founded in 2002, SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The SpaceX team now numbers nearly 900, with corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, California. For more information, please visit the company's web site at Space Exploration Technologies Corporation - SpaceX.
Exciting times we're living in. Vocationally, we can no longer concern ourselves with just the X and Y axis. Our children will have the opportunity to persue meaningful careers along the Z axis as well. Something I could only dream about.
I saw part of a press conference today with a couple of shutle astronauts aboard the ISS. They were being asked about what they thought of the future of NASA, the legacy of the shuttle program, and the future of the ISS. Neither astronaut would comment for whatever reason, but it caused me to wonder just how the ISS would continue to be serviced and crews refreshed. Now I know. There's only four more shuttle missions on the schedule.
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