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[b]Failed valve replaced, SpaceX clears Falcon 9 for Tuesday launch[/b]
SpaceX said on Monday (May 21) that they are again ready to attempt launching a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon spacecraft to orbit on a mission that will make them the first commercial company to try to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station.
SpaceX's second launch attempt is set for 3:44 a.m. EDT (0744 GMT) on Tuesday (May 22).
The company's first launch attempt was aborted when the flight computer detected slightly high pressure in the engine 5 combustion chamber. During their inspections of the engine, SpaceX engineers discovered a faulty check valve on the Merlin engine.
"The failed valve was replaced on Saturday (May 19) and after thorough analysis the vehicle has been cleared for launch," SpaceX said in a statement.
During the mission, Dragon must perform a series of complex tasks, each presenting technical challenges: [list][*][b]May 22/Launch Day[/b]: SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches a Dragon spacecraft into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
[*][b]May 23[/b]: Dragon orbits Earth as it travels toward the space station.
[*][b]May 24[/b]: Dragon's sensors and flight systems are subject to a series of complicated tests to determine if the vehicle is ready to berth with the space station; these tests include maneuvers and systems checks that see the vehicle come within 1.5 miles of the station.
[*][b]May 25[/b]: NASA decides if Dragon is allowed to attempt to berth with the station. If so, Dragon approaches; it is captured by station's robotic arm and attached to the station. This requires extreme precision as both Dragon and station orbit the earth every 90 minutes.
[*][b]May 26-31[/b]: Astronauts open Dragon’s hatch, unload supplies and fill Dragon with return cargo.
[*][b]May 31[/b]: Dragon is detached from the station and returns to Earth, landing in the Pacific, hundreds of miles west of Southern California.[/list] This is SpaceX's second demo mission under a 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA to develop the capability to carry cargo to and from the station.
The purpose of the flight is to provide NASA and SpaceX with flight data needed to ensure successful future missions to the station. "Demonstration launches are conducted to determine potential issues so that they might be addressed and – by their very nature – carry a significant risk," SpaceX said.
If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX says they will learn from the experience and try again.
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