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[b]Preparations for first Falcon 9 test launch[/b]
SpaceX is now targeting Friday, June 4th for its first test launch attempt of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
The primary schedule driver for the first Falcon 9 test launch has been certification of the flight termination system (FTS). The FTS ensures that Air Force Range safety officials can command the destruction of the vehicle should it stray from its designated flight path.
The successful liftoff of the recent GPS satellite launch last Thursday freed up the necessary range resources to process our final documentation, and we are now looking good for final approval of the FTS by this Friday, June 4th, just in time for our first launch attempt.
Today we completed end to end testing of the Falcon 9 as required by the Air Force Range and everything was nominal. Later this evening, we will finish final system connections for the FTS. Tomorrow we plan to rollout in the morning, and erect the vehicle in the afternoon. On Friday, the targeted schedule is as follows:
[b]Friday 4 June 2010[/b] [list][*]Launch Window Opens: 11:00 AM Eastern / 8:00 AM Pacific / 1500 UTC
[*]Launch window lasts 4 hours. SpaceX has also reserved a second launch day on Saturday 5 June, with the same hours.[/list] As always, weather will play a significant role in our overall launch schedule. The weather experts at the Cape are giving us a 40% chance of "no go" conditions for both days of our window, citing the potential for cumulus clouds and anvil clouds from thunderstorms.
If the weather cooperates, SpaceX will provide a live webcast of the launch events, presently scheduled to begin 20 minutes prior to the opening of the launch window. Click [URL=http://www.spacex.com/webcast.php]here[/URL] to visit our webcast page which will also be accessible from our home page the day of launch.
It's important to note that since this is a test launch, our primary goal is to collect as much data as possible, with success being measured as a percentage of how many flight milestones we are able to complete in this first attempt. It would be a great day if we reach orbital velocity, but still a good day if the first stage functions correctly, even if the second stage malfunctions. It would be a bad day if something happens on the launch pad itself and we're not able to gain any flight data.
If we have a bad day, it will be disappointing, but one launch does not make or break SpaceX as a company, nor commercial spaceflight as an industry. The Atlas rocket only succeeded on its 13th flight, and today it is the most reliable vehicle in the American fleet, with a record better than shuttle.
Regardless of the outcome, this first launch attempt represents a key milestone for both SpaceX and the commercial spaceflight industry. Keep in mind the launch dates and times are still subject to change, so please check the webcast page above for updates to this schedule. We appreciate your ongoing support and we hope you will tune in on launch day.
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