[amsat-bb] Next SpaceX Flight February 7, 2012

Clint Bradford clintbradford at mac.com
Fri Dec 9 09:51:04 PST 2011

RELEASE: 11-413


WASHINGTON -- NASA has announced the launch target for Space 
Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) second Commercial Orbital 
Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration flight will be Feb. 7, 
2012. Pending completion of final safety reviews, testing and 
verification, NASA also has agreed to allow SpaceX to send its Dragon 
spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) 
in a single flight. 

"SpaceX has made incredible progress over the last several months 
preparing Dragon for its mission to the space station," said William 
Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for the Human 
Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. "We look forward to a 
successful mission, which will open up a new era in commercial cargo 
delivery for this international orbiting laboratory." 

Gerstenmaier said, "There is still a significant amount of critical 
work to be completed before launch, but the teams have a sound plan 
to complete it and are prepared for unexpected challenges. As with 
all launches, we will adjust the launch date as needed to gain 
sufficient understanding of test and analysis results to ensure 
safety and mission success." 

During the flight, Dragon will conduct a series of check-out 
procedures that will test and prove its systems in advance of the 
rendezvous with the station. The primary objectives for the flight 
include a fly-by of the space station at a distance of approximately 
two miles to validate the operation of sensors and flight systems 
necessary for a safe rendezvous and approach. The spacecraft also 
will demonstrate the capability to abort the rendezvous, if required. 

Dragon will perform the final approach to the ISS while the station 
crew grapples the vehicle with the station's robotic arm. The capsule 
will be berthed to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node. At the 
end of the mission, the crew will reverse the process, detaching 
Dragon from the station for its return to Earth and splashdown in the 
Pacific off the coast of California. If the rendezvous and attachment 
to the station are not successful, SpaceX will complete a third 
demonstration flight in order to achieve these objectives as 
originally planned. 

"SpaceX is on the forefront of demonstrating how a partnership between 
the government and private industry can lead to new capabilities and 
provide a large return on investment," said Alan Lindenmoyer, program 
manager for COTS at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. 

"SpaceX is excited to be the first commercial company in history to 
berth with the International Space Station. This mission will mark a 
historic milestone in the future of spaceflight," said SpaceX 
President Gwynne Shotwell. "We appreciate NASA's continued support 
and their partnership in this process." 

Begun in 2006, NASA's COTS program is investing financial and 
technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to 
develop and demonstrate safe, reliable and cost-effective space 
transportation capabilities. In a multiphase strategy, the program is 
spurring the innovation and development of new spacecraft and launch 
vehicles from commercial industry, creating a new system of 
delivering cargo to low-Earth orbit and the International Space 

Through Space Act Agreements, SpaceX will receive up to $396 million 
and Orbital Sciences Corporation, NASA's other COTS partner, will 
receive up to $288 million for the successful completion of all 
milestones in the agreements. To date, SpaceX has received $376 
million for completing 36 out of 40 milestones and Orbital has 
received $261.5 million for completing 23 out of 29 milestones. 

For more information on COTS, visit: 


For more information on the International Space Station, visit: 


For more information on SpaceX or the Dragon spacecraft, visit: 



Clint Bradford
clintbradford at mac.com

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