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Spacex readies new attempt of rocket launch to space lab - Blackberry Playbook Bluetooth Keyboard M by icdenta icdenta





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Spacex readies new attempt of rocket launch to space lab - Blackberry Playbook Bluetooth Keyboard M by
Article Posted: 07/26/2012
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Articles Written: 1096
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Spacex readies new attempt of rocket launch to space lab - Blackberry Playbook Bluetooth Keyboard M


 
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SpaceX on Monday readied a fresh bid to become the first privatecompany to launch its own craft to the International Space Stationafter fixing an engine problem that grounded its earlier try. The launch of the Dragon space capsule atop the Falcon 9 rocket isscheduled for 3:44 am Tuesday (0744 GMT) from Cape Canaveral inFlorida, on a mission to carry supplies to the orbiting researchoutpost. The test flight -- which should include a fly-by and berthing withthe station in the coming days -- aims to show private industry ison its way to restoring US access to the ISS after NASA retired itsspace shuttle fleet last year. No humans are traveling aboard the Dragon, but six astronauts arealready at the $100-billion space lab to help the capsule latch on,to unload supplies and then restock the capsule with cargo to takeback to Earth.

The Saturday launch attempt was scrubbed at the last second whencomputers detected high pressure in the central engine of theFalcon 9. SpaceX engineers discovered the root cause was a faulty checkvalve. "The failed valve was replaced on Saturday and after thoroughanalysis the vehicle has been cleared for launch," SpaceXspokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham said in a statement. If for some reason Tuesday's launch window cannot be met, anotheropportunity opens up on Friday. SpaceX had mentioned Wednesday as apotential launch day but later decided Friday May would be a betteralternative.

California-based SpaceX is the first of several US competitors totry sending its own spacecraft to the ISS with the goal ofrestoring US access to space for human travelers by 2015. The company successfully test-launched its Falcon 9 rocket in June2010, then made history with its Dragon launch in December 2010,becoming the first commercial outfit to send a spacecraft intoorbit and back. Its reusable Dragon capsule has been built to carry both cargo andup to seven crew. Until now, only the space agencies of Russia, Japan and Europe havebeen able to send supply ships to the ISS. The US space shuttle fleet long served as part astronaut bus, partdelivery truck for the lab.

But the three-decade shuttle program ended for good in 2011,leaving Russia as the sole taxi for astronauts to the ISS untilprivate industry comes up with a replacement. The US space agency has given SpaceX about $390 million so far ofthe total $680 million that the company has spent on cargodevelopment. SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA forfuture supply missions. Orbital Sciences Corporation is working on its own supply ship,with a preliminary launch scheduled for later this year, and has a$1.9 billion contract with NASA.

SpaceX also gets funding from NASA on a separate effort to developa commercial crew vehicle for carrying astronauts to space, alongwith competitors Blue Origin, Boeing and Sierra Nevada. In a few years' time, SpaceX says it will be able to undercut thehefty price NASA pays Russia for US astronauts to get a seat aboardthe Soyuz space capsule -- around $63 million a ticket. But in the meantime, SpaceX and NASA have both cautioned that theattempt is risky. "Demonstration launches are conducted to determine potential issuesso that they might be addressed and -- by their very nature --carry a significant risk," SpaceX said in a statement on Monday.

"If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX will learnfrom the experience and try again." If the launch goes as planned on Tuesday, Dragon would orbit theEarth in May 23 as it travels toward the ISS. On May 24, the spacecraft's sensors and flight systems are toundergo a series of tests to see if the craft is ready to berthwith the space station, including a complicated fly-under at adistance of about 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers). If NASA gives the green light, the Dragon will then approach theISS on May 25 in an attempt to berth with the station. The astronauts on board the ISS will maneuver the station's roboticarm to help capture the capsule and attach it to the orbitingresearch outpost.

The hatch of the Dragon is set to open on May 26 for unloading andrestocking. On May 31, the Dragon is to detach from the station andmake a safe landing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southernCalifornia.

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