SpaceX says it is ready to meet NASA’s November 30, 2011 launch date for a mission that will deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS).
Indeed, the corporation successfully completed a wet dress rehearsal (WDR) for the Falcon 9 Flight 3 launch vehicle earlier this week in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
”The WDR is a significant test during which we load propellant into the vehicle and perform all operations just as we would on launch day right down to T-1 seconds, at which point we abort and detank the propellant,” a SpaceX rep explained.
“Since our last flight, we have made significant upgrades to the launch pad to streamline the countdown. For example, we installed new liquid oxygen (LOX) pumps that reduced our previous loading time from 90 minutes to under 30.”
SpaceX has also conducted separation tests of the Dragon cargo capsule from the Falcon 9 second stage rocket, while ensuring the Dragon’s solar array rotary actuator – which tracks the sun for maximum energy capture – is fully operational.
“We are well into production with all parts for the launch [of the] Falcon 9 Flight 4 and its Dragon CRS-1 spacecraft, which should be the first commercial cargo resupply mission under NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program,” said the rep.
“This next mission represents a huge milestone not only for SpaceX, but also for NASA and the US space program. When the astronauts stationed on the ISS open the hatch and enter the Dragon spacecraft for the first time, it will mark the beginning of a new era in space travel.”