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Mon, Dec 06, 2010

SpaceX Scrubs Second Falcon 9 Launch

Technical Problems Push The COTS 1 Test To Later This Week

SpaceX scrubbed Monday's planned second launch of the Falcon 9 rocket, which was also to have been the first test of the Dragon COTS module. Technical issues caused SpaceX to push the launch to no earlier than Thursday.

First Falcon 9 Launch

ANN EIC Jim Campbell was at Cape Canaveral for the launch. In a telephone conversation, Campbell said the inspection of the second stage nozzle assembly indicated a possible fracture or other compromise in the system. As there is only one engine on the second stage, the criticality of the nozzle compromise is fairly obvious. It is not yet known if the nozzle will need to be replaced or if it can be repaired.

Replacement of the nozzle would require a Friday or Saturday launch. If it can be repaired, an earlier attempt is possible.

SpaceX was recently granted the first commercial FAA licence for a spacecraft to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. The launch, when it occurs, will be the first flight under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to develop commercial supply services to the International Space Station and encourage the growth of the commercial space industry.

SpaceX Dragon Module

After the Space Shuttle retires, SpaceX is scheduled to make at least 12 flights to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of a 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 towards this goal.



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