Friday, May 18, 2012

SpaceX Launch Difficult, Risky

Image: SpaceX's first Falcon 9 rocket Moskowitz
SpaceX's first Falcon 9 rocket to launch an unmanned Dragon capsule to the International Space Station stands atop its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., one day before its May 19, 2012 launch.
updated 5/18/2012 5:10:33 PM ET
Nerves are frayed here on Florida's space coast as commercial company SpaceX prepares to launch its Dragon capsule on the first-ever flight of a private vehicle to the International Space Station.
The milestone mission is being viewed as a test not only of Dragon but of private spaceflight in general. It will be the first commercial spaceship test flight for NASA's new plan to outsource transportation of cargo — and eventually crew — to the space station to the private sector now that the agency's space shuttle fleet is retired.


Why historic SpaceX mission to space station will be so difficult

When SpaceX launches its Falcon 9 rocket Saturday, it will be the beginning of a complex rendezvous with the space station that attempts to test several capabilities in one mission. 

By Staff writer / May 18, 2012
The SpaceX Falcon 9 test rocket is being prepared for launch from Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Friday.
Pierre DuCharme/REUTERS

If all goes well, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon cargo capsule will lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 4:55 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Saturday en route to the International Space Station.
For Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), Saturday's launch begins a crucial set of technical tests for a rocket and spacecraft designed for regular cargo service to International Space Station. That task is itself is a stepping stone to using the Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule to send humans to and from the station, as well as future destinations in low-Earth orbit.


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