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SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Poised at Pad to Open New Space Era

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket poised at Pad 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for liftoff early on Saturday, May 19. Credit: Ken Kremer

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is now poised at the launch pad and set to open a completely new era in spaceflight. Hopes are sky high that Saturday mornings Falcon 9 launch represents the dawn of the commercial era in spaceflight akin to the startup of the commercial airline industry early in the 20th Century and will lead eventually lead to a vast expansion in the exploration and exploitation of space.

Engineers moved the rocket on rails last night about 600 feet from the processing hangar out to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and then raised it to the vertical launch position. See my photos here of the Falcon 9 taken less than 24 hours from the planned liftoff

Falcon 9 rocket is slated to lift off 4:55 a.m. EDT (0855 GMT). Credit: Ken Kremer

The mission is designated COTS 2 and entails the first ever attempt by a commercial firm to dock at the International Space Station, a feat heretofore only accomplished by sovereign nations.

The 157 foot tall Falcon 9 is topped by the Dragon spacecraft also developed by SpaceX and slated to liftoff at 4:55 a.m. EDT (0855 GMT).

The high stakes mission is billed as a test flight and could be viewed by powerful Washington lawmakers as a boon or bust to the burgeoning commercial space industry.

Ken Kremer


Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, research scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calendars including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, NASA Wallops, NASA Michoud/Stennis/Langley and on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • zkank May 19, 2012, 3:44 AM

    Other than at sites like this where literally only a handful of people have their finger on the pulse of leaps and advancements, the profound significance of this particular flight is going to be missed by the general public.

    Even MORE science fiction coming to fruition!

    (It’s all very exciting!)

    • TheDirtBoy May 19, 2012, 6:41 AM

      It would be intresting to conduct a world wide poll to see what percentage of the world has even the vaguest clue about this launch.

      • ali poursamar May 19, 2012, 8:13 AM

        let other doze off. it was always like that and remain like that. how many people saw the potential of personal computer in late 70’s. handful of geek like steve jobs and paul allen. that’s the difference between loser and winner.

        • Skipdallas1 May 19, 2012, 2:30 PM

          Good analogy. I remember in the late 70’s, I lived next door to a couple of AT&T geeks that were all agog about this computer thing they were playing chess with! I have to admit that at the time, I thought it was a toy! However, I have Always been tuned into the Space Program.

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  • Jacob Edmondson May 19, 2012, 3:44 AM

    Way to go SpaceX!

    Best of luck meeting all your milestones

  • Charlie Bray May 19, 2012, 3:45 AM

    Good Luck!! I’m rooting for ya!

  • zkank May 19, 2012, 4:12 AM

    Two sci-fi space companies that come to mind:
    “Fowler Schocken Associates”; Space Merchants (Fredrik Pohl novel)

    “Weyland-Yutani Corporation”; Alien series.

    • Aerandir90 May 19, 2012, 3:42 PM

      Yep SpaceX has been reminding me of Weyland-Yutani Corp, we’ll see how it plays out in the future 😉

    • Jeff Boerst May 19, 2012, 7:19 PM

      Weyland-Yutani Corporation!! (Building Better Worlds)

  • Jason Major May 19, 2012, 4:12 AM

    GO SPACEX!!!

  • Chetan Chauhan May 19, 2012, 9:45 AM

    Well at least it didn’t blow up or crash on launch

  • Chetan Chauhan May 19, 2012, 9:45 AM

    Well at least it didn’t blow up or crash on launch

  • Torbjörn Larsson May 19, 2012, 9:53 PM

    It is designated COTS 2+ now, since it can do some or all of the COTS 3 objectives.