After a handful of delays and one abort on the launch pad, SpaceX began its historic journey toward the International Space Station just before 4:00 a.m. eastern time this morning as its Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in a spectacular nighttime launch.
With a crucial test flight of its Falcon 9 rocket and an unmanned Dragon capsule slated for later this month, commercial space outfit SpaceX is nearing the crescendo of its unmanned space launch program--a robotic rendezvous with the International Space Station. Next up for SpaceX: doing the exact same thing, but this time delivering humans rather than cargo into orbit.
The first launch of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft to the ISS has been delayed yet again. No new date has been set, but the SpaceX apparently feels its Dragon could benefit from further testing and will not be ready for its scheduled February 7 launch. "We are now working with NASA to establish a new target launch date, but note that we will continue to test and review data," a SpaceX spokeswoman said in a statement today.
A little less than six months after the final space shuttle launch, a private space company will launch a rocket carrying a cargo capsule bound for the International Space Station. SpaceX said this week that it plans a Nov. 30 launch date for its first rendezvous with the ISS — an encounter that will mark a major milestone in private space exploration.
The private spaceflight industry took another giant leap forward today as privately-owned SpaceX, with help from NASA, successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying its Dragon crew capsule into orbit from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Though the crew capsule was unmanned for this maiden flight, the launch marks the first time a private spaceflight company has launched a spaceship into orbit with the intention of bringing it safely back to Earth.
After launching their smaller Falcon 1 last summer (the first privately-developed liquid-fuel rocket ever to reach orbit), SpaceX is now ready for the first test launch of its larger, more advanced Falcon 9 rocket today. A four-hour, weather-dependent launch window begins now, and you can watch the countdown live. Update: Looks like the test was successful.
President Obama likely faces a tough crowd when he attempts to articulate his vision for NASA in Florida next month, but in the meantime the private space industry he's thrown his support behind continues to make strides. Private space tech company SpaceX just completed its first successful test-fire of its Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad, meeting a critical benchmark in its mission to launch cargo and astronauts into orbit.
SpaceX's new Falcon 9 takes a crucial step to the launchpad
By Marshall Louis ReavesPosted 03.27.2009 at 12:56 pm 2 Comments
Since January, SpaceX's heavy-payload Falcon 9 launch vehicle has stood 180 feet above Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, undergoing ground-systems tests in the run-up to its first test flight. The reusable Falcon series, named for the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars, has nine engines that provide more than a million pounds of thrust. Last September, the smaller, 70-foot-tall Falcon 1 became the first privately developed liquid-fueled rocket to orbit the Earth.