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Post Info TOPIC: DemoFlight 2 Launch


L

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RE: DemoFlight 2 Launch
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SpaceX is set for a second-try at launching its Falcon I rocket next week, possible as soon as Monday.

"We had a very successful static fire yesterday that proceeded smoothly with no aborts" - CEO Elon Musk in a March 16 announcement from California-based Space Exploration Technologies.

Lift-off will take place during a window of March 19-22 (California time) from Omelek, a small islet at the U.S. militaryís Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Test Site located on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Oceanís Marshall Islands, which SpaceX has adapted for its private launches.

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L

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DemoFlight 2 Update
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At present, it appears that SpaceX are on track for a launch next week, possibly as soon as Monday. They had a very successful static fire yesterday that proceeded smoothly with no aborts.
SpaceXs initial review of the data showed that the rocket functioned almost perfectly. The only remaining concern is that the GPS portion of the guidance system showed an anomaly about 15 minutes *after* the static fire. Falcon 1 is designed to achieve its target orbit purely on inertial navigation, so the GPS, while helpful for improving orbit insertion accuracy, is not flight critical.
SpaceX are carefully analysing the GPS and, more importantly, are making sure that the GPS problem does not hint at some larger issue. There will be a total of 12 cameras looking at the rocket on launch day, including two thermal imaging and two vehicle cams.

The videos of the static fire can be seen HERE and HERE (wmv)

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DemoFlight 2 Launch Update
The launch window is now March 19th to 22nd (California time).
During extended ground testing in late February, one of SpaceX second stage thrust vector control boards indicated a problem. Although their analysis showed substantial margin for flight, they decided nonetheless to increase the robustness of certain of the components and run a delta qualification.
The upgraded boards will be installed this week. If all goes well, Falcon 1 will do a static fire next week and then launch in the week of the 19th.

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SpaceX have recently been informed by the Kwajalein Army Range that they do not have sufficient resources to support their launch in mid to late Feb. Several range personnel critical to the launch safety process will be unavailable in that timeframe. The earliest launch window available from the Range now opens March 9.

Additional Falcon 1 Flights in 2007
After the upcoming demonstration flight, Falcon 1 is scheduled to launch a satellite for the US Navy Research Laboratory (funded by the Office of Force Transformation) in late summer and then a satellite for the Malaysian Space Agency late in the year. SpaceX are also building an additional Falcon 1 vehicle in the event that some promising customer discussions culminate in a fourth Falcon 1 launch this year.

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In an excess of caution, SpaceX decided not to proceed with the static fire this month. The vehicle is now back in the hangar, where the stages are being demated for careful inspection.

The static fire and launch window is now mid to late February, due to Kwaj having to configure for an incoming Minuteman and then reconfigure back to handling a Falcon launch. During this downtime, SpaceX will take the opportunity to go over every inch of the rocket with a microscope again.

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RE: DemoFlight 2 Launch
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El Segundo rocket developer Space Exploration Technologies has pushed back the planned launch of its Falcon 1 rocket until mid-February because of an anomaly with a rocket component.
The announcement came Friday in company founder Elon Musk's blog on the firm's Web site.

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SpaceX Press release: DemoFlight 2 Launch Update

During our final check-outs prior to static fire, we uncovered an anomaly with the thrust vector control (TVC) pitch actuator on the second stage that will result in launch being pushed to February. Since this is not used during the static fire, we have decided to push forward with that test in order to acquire valuable data on engine ignition, pad acoustics, and the overall system response. The static fire is now planned to occur between Saturday and Tuesday (California time). This test will proceed very slowly and then only burns for about four seconds, so will not be webcast to avoid boring people silly. We will post a video afterwards.
Upon completion of the static fire, we will take the rocket back into the hangar to thoroughly investigate the TVC issue. With the range available to us only until January 23 (Kwaj needs to reconfigure for an incoming Minuteman mission), this means launch is now planned for mid-February. As Iíve mentioned previously, donít hold your breath for this launch.

Given the large number of robustness improvements and the fact that our vehicle/pad health verification system has increased from about 30 checks to almost 1000, shifts in the launch date are to be expected. Overall, the SpaceX team is quite happy with the smooth progress so far.



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