SpaceX Now Aims for November Launch of Dragon Space Capsule

SpaceX Now Aims for November Launch of Dragon Space Capsule
The second Falcon 9 rocket's first stage inside the hangar at pad 40.
(Image: © SpaceX)

WASHINGTON? The private spaceflight company SpaceExploration Technologies (SpaceX) has shifted a planned Oct. 23 launchof itsFalcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo vessel to November.

"Ourtargeted launchdate is moving ? we've submitted a request for November 8thor 9th and arewaiting for the range to complete their standard deconfliction work andprovidea formal approval," SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Brost said in a Sept. 21e-mail.

Theflight, a demonstration test of the medium-classrocket and Dragonspace capsule being developedunder NASA's CommercialOrbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, was originally slatedto occurin September 2008, according to the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company's2006 NASASpace Act Agreement.

Thedocument was later modified to reflect a June 2009initial demonstration flight. Routine resupply runs to theInternational SpaceStation were expected to follow as early as December of this year, buthardwaredevelopment has taken longer than planned. [Photos:SpaceX's First Falcon 9 Launch]

Minortweaks to Falcon9 hardware have been under way since the company completed aninternalanalysis of the vehicle's maiden launch from Cape Canaveral Air ForceStation,Fla. That mission was funded by a U.S. government agency that SpaceXhasdeclined to name and carried a qualification unit of the company'sDragon spacestation cargo capsule into orbit.

Thefirst COTS demo entails a four-hour flight meant toshow Dragon can complete as many as four orbits, transmit telemetry,receivecommands, maneuver, re-enter the atmosphere and make a safe waterlanding andrecovery.

NASAspokesman Joshua Byerly said delays with new rocketsand spacecraft are to be expected.

"Theupcoming test flight is much more complicatedsince it involves not only the Falcon 9 rocket, but also the Dragonspacecraft,"he said last month. "So you are talking about two brand-new spacecraft."

This article was provided bySpaceNews, dedicated tocovering all aspects of the space industry.

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