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Just In From SpaceX: Dragon and Falcon 9 Assembly Now Complete

Dragon spaceship and Falcon 9 rocket just completed assembly at Cape Canaveral on Feb. 27, 2012. Credit: SpaceX, via @SpaceX

Today SpaceX today released an image of the fully assembled Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket inside their facility at Cape Canaveral. This means the first test launch of a commercially built spacecraft to the International Space Station is just a bit closer. The exact date of the launch has not yet been announced after NASA and SpaceX agreed in early this year that the Feb. 7 date they were aiming for was not feasible. The demonstration flight – called COTS 2/3 – will be the premiere test flight in NASA’s new strategy to resupply the ISS with privately developed rockets and cargo carriers under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) initiative.

In a press conference earlier this month, NASA’s Mike Suffredini said SpaceX’s launch would be no earlier than March 20. “There are no big problems being worked but a lot of little things to wrap up,” he said. “I wouldn’t hold my breath, as it is a challenging date, but I would guess we’ll fly within a couple of weeks of that date. We’ll hold that date as we work towards the launch.”

Suffredini added that SpaceX is working on minor hardware modifications, plus they will need to do a wet dress rehearsal and hot fire test beforehand, so all that makes March 20 a challenging date. There’s a good window of opportunity between March 20 and the next Soyuz launch to bring the next crew to the ISS, which has been delayed due to problems with the Soyuz capsule. No firm date has been set for the Soyuz launch, but it will likely be late April or early May.

We’ll keep you posted when the tentative launch dates are announced.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, click on the image below to see a very cool panorama of the inside of the Dragon capsule.

Click to see an interactive panorama for a look inside Dragon in its cargo configuration, as it will be on its first mission to the International Space Station:

Source: @SpaceX

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Robert Gishubl February 28, 2012, 12:39 AM

    Comments I have seen it is more likely April launch
    http://news.softpedia.com/news/SpaceX-Dragon-Launch-Delayed-to-Early-April-250452.shtml
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COTS_Demo_Flight_2
    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/003/status.html
    But I must say this is a test flight of a new spacecraft and it is a complex piece of technology so some delays are par for the course. I do wish they would fly sooner but it is better to delay and fix bugs than fly early and have a problem.

    • TerryG February 28, 2012, 10:51 AM

      Elon Musk’s tweet of Feb 26th says “end of April”. That might also cause a knock-on delay for the first CRS mission, but nice of UT to share the image anyways. Thanks.

  • ???????? ???????????? February 28, 2012, 2:05 AM

    Best wishes for a successful flight!

  • Kirkaiya February 28, 2012, 11:25 AM

    #corrections
    Hi Nancy, you wrote, “There’s a good window of opportunity between March 20 and the next Soyuz launch to bring the next crew to the ISS… “.

    If you’re talking about the Falcon 9 with Dragon launch, you probably meant to say “the next resupply mission”, since the Falcon 9 isn’t man-rated, and so (for now) can only carry cargo (or maybe I just misunderstood your sentence).

    • Torbjörn Larsson February 28, 2012, 10:35 PM

      I read it as “There’s a good window of opportunity between March 20 and the next Soyuz launch (to bring the next crew to the ISS)… “.

      • Kirkaiya February 29, 2012, 1:18 AM

        Ah, that’s probably the correct way to read it, thanks. A rather ambiguously-worded sentence, and sometimes my brain is a bit too literal when reading. D’oh!

        • Torbjörn Larsson February 29, 2012, 7:27 AM

          I often do the same, especially when I am tired. Rereading may fix it, but not always.

          That sentence tripped me up too at first read. So while it looks perfectly logical I suspect it’s a sentence construction that we can’t (or don’t often) use in my native language. English is a lot more loosely constructed but also straightforward in general.

          [This is one of those few times I wish I knew something more than rudimentary grammar analysis. Or that Ivan3man popped up to describe the sentence.]

  • Petrllx February 29, 2012, 8:40 AM
  • Aqua4U March 1, 2012, 2:43 PM

    Thanks for the update Nancy! GO Space X!

  • Petrllx March 2, 2012, 6:19 AM
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