SpaceX launch moved to Friday

by Chris Bergin

SpaceX anticipates a maiden launch attempt of their Falcon 1 rocket will now take place on Friday, March 24th, at 1pm California time (21:00 GMT), with an extra day being required to review data gained from two static fire tests.

“No major issues were discovered following the static fire,” said SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, “but, as a cautionary measure, we are going to take one more day to review data and verify system functionality.”

A flawless flight readiness test with a three second engine firing was completed on the pad late Tuesday.

An earlier flight readiness test was also performed on Saturday, with a momentary engine firing, but with a couple of minor problems.

The issues were reported by as a premature disconnect of the ground helium supply upon engine firing, and a video camera glitch.

‘We had a great static fire today,’ wrote Musk in an online update. ‘Falcon was held down for almost three seconds of thrust (T+0.5s), part of which was under autonomous thrust vector control.  All systems were green and no aborts were triggered.’

**Click here for the video of the static fire test**

SpaceX is attempting to launch from their own facilities in the small pacific Kwajalein Atoll, part of the US Army’s Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site. 

The scheduled launch window extends through Saturday, March 25th.

Since the last launch attempt in early February, the company had to ship additional LOX supplies to the island, and resolve a small second stage tank leak with a replacement tank from California. 

It was unclear whether the discovered leak would have caused a significant problem if the rocket had launched.

The Falcon 1 will be launching a small DARPA and Air Force satellite into a target 450 km orbit, higher than the ISS, at a 39 degree inclination. 

The FalconSat-2 payload will measure space plasma phenomena as part of the Air Force Academy’s satellite program.

If successful, this launch will prove not just the new Falcon 1 vehicle, but the Merlin 1 and Kestrel engines which are both of an entirely new design. 

The Merlin 1 is considered to be the first all new orbital American hydrocarbon engine to fly in 40 years. 

Between ten and 28 revised Merlin 1B engines will power the future Falcon 9 series of vehicles, with a first US Government launch scheduled for the second quarter of 2007.
**Click here to join the thousands who follow our interactive live launch coverage** We are also working on information the launch will be available on webcast.




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