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SpaceX launch in about 3 hours

I am sitting in a motel room near the Mojave Spaceport where I am working at present and will be watching the SpaceX launch HERE and probably *not* trying to type what you can already see there. If you have questions about what is going on, fire off a comment and I will try to explain as best I can. Keep in mind though that I will have a cut off different than most of you since I am in Pacific Daylight Time, -3 hours from EDT and -8 from BDT.

For those who have not been following it, this is the first commercial cargo test flight to the International Space Station. The Dragon capsule will deliver food, water, clothing and other miscellaneous not-critical supplies; it will return to Earth carrying a lot of special purpose gear from experiments that have been completed.

The flight is a combination of two test flights which were originally planned to be separate. COTS 2 is the demonstration that the Dragon can do all of the sorts of maneuvering required for space station ‘Prox Ops’; the COTS 3 portion is an actual docking and deliver of cargo to the station and back to Earth.

This is a very big deal to those of us in the commercial space world. NASA is an initial customer but not the only one. SpaceX has signed a contract with Bigelow Aerospace to handle resupply for the Bigelow space stations that will be going up starting in the middle of this decade.

01:17 PDT: Video feed is live

01:44 PDT: This is going to be a tough one. The launch window is seconds wide… any hold and they will have to wait until Tuesday to try again.

01:56 PDT: Oh, well. Not tonight. Vehicle had a terminal abort. SpaceX has very conservative limits and go criteria. If this wasn’t a one window per day due to the tight parameters for an ISS rendezvous, they will not be able to recycle and try again as they have in the past. It will be a Tuesday window. I will be in DC for the runup to the ISDC by then.

02:00 PDT: They had a chamber pressure high on one of the engines. Well, they have several days to work it out. For now they are safing the vehicle.

12 comments to SpaceX launch in about 3 hours

  • Ed Dahlgren

    Also watching in Denver, Colorado – really excited!

  • Mike James

    Thanks for the link, Dale and forgive me for the vulgarism “Happier than a puppy with two dicks”, but I am watching the live feed, and I am pretty damned happy.

    I say this, being the sort of American that thinks NASA is an eminently suitable use of money taken from the “Billpayers” (“Billpayers being merely an alternate form of “taxpayers”), but NASA is no longer what I spent most of my life believing in.

    I’ll stop now. I’m getting emotional now.

    T minus four minutes, bubba.

  • Ed Dahlgren


  • AKM

    Oh well, they had an abort. Better luck next time.

  • Mike James

    Flight computer non-startup. Effin’ hell.

    Unlike the .gov, SpaceX operates pretty much in the open, and that gives those of us with no right to an opinion (see Heinlein, “Blowups Happen”) a chance to run our mouths about stuff we don’t know very much about.

    Doesn’t matter. This stuff’s cool, my faith is unchanged.

    Now, at two in the morning in CA, I’m going to consume my celebratory beer in a mood of…of…I’m having a damn beer on the weekend, alright?

  • Dale Amon

    Tuesday is the next window, so I will have to see if I can find some free time then to blog it again. They get good data from their systems and the SpaceX rockets are really smart, which is why you get shutdowns, quick turn around and no blow ups. Most customers are happier to have a delay rather than dumping their precious gear in the Atlantic, so this sort of thing is not bad for their business model.

  • Dale Amon

    I might add that this is going to be a big year, followed by an even bigger one. Expect Armadillo to fly past the Von Karman line this year on a suborbital flight (unmanned) from Spaceport America; the SpaceX COTS 2/3 flight will go Tuesday or whenever they are ready; Virgin will probably fly SS2 under power some time this year; and Lynx should see air under her wings before the year ends.

    Next year, 2013, may well see the first flight of the Falcon 9 Heavy, the largest lift capacity of any vehicle built to date except for the Saturn V. The times are changin’ and I am quite happy to be right in the middle of it.

  • Regional

    NASA is an acronym for Not A Safe Aircraft

  • RAB

    My fingers are crossed for tuesday.

    You, and your friends are the best hope for humanity Dale. We have to get out of here!

  • Dale Amon

    They have found the cause for the slight over-pressure on one engine: a faulty check valve. It is being replaced and it looks like they will be go for the second launch window on Tuesday.

  • Edward

    Excellent news. Glad they are playing it safe, it’s very important that the Dragon launch is a success. Once they’re established, the private space sector will own LEO. And the state actors will be forced outward to survive, to the Moon and beyond… That’s my dream anyway, and I’m sticking to it!

  • Paul Marks

    My best wishes for this enterprise.

    Although, given future economic breakdown, the company might be wise to relocate outside the United States.

    Australia might be a good place.