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Monday, December 18, 2006

SpaceX Passes COTS Review

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has passed system requirements review for its Falcon 9 booster and Dragon capsule cargo variant for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract. SpaceX is developing the Falcon 9 to boost a 19,100lb payload into LEO at a cost of $29-million each.

The Dragon capsule is being developed for NASA as a payload delivery system and, perhaps, a human-rated capsule for commercial astronauts and space tourists to the private Bigelow Aerospace commercial space station expected to be launched by 2010.

The first two flights of the Falcon 9 booster are expected in the first six months of 2008 on non-NASA COTS flights booked prior to the contract award to service the orbiting international space station. The initial launches are slated for the Kwajalein Atoll spaceport in the Pacific Ocean.

1 comment:

SoaringGaijin said...

I wish Elon Musk and SpaceX all the best, but I can't shake the feeling that they severely underestimated the complexities of space flight.

Now they're planning the first Falcon 9 launch to happen within 18 months, but don't even have one successful flight with the single-engine Falcon 1.

And it's not like you can just strap 9 engines together and hope all works well - there are all kinds of vibration problems and additional failure modes they will have to test.

Count me as a skeptic ... but it's not as simple as: Let a private company do it and everything will work fast, cheap and reliably right away.