Yesterday (Jan. 10th) was a huge day for SpaceX. For the first time ever, one of their rockets (the mighty Falcon 9) was hoisted vertically in preparation for the Falcon 9 maiden launch (presumably) in the next few weeks. No launch window has been announced as yet, but I am sure SpaceX will be working hard to ignite the nine Merlin-1C engines as soon as possible. Static tests have proven the launch system works, and the successful Falcon 1 flight in September proved SpaceX technology was a reality, so all that is needed is for the largest Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) in the SpaceX fleet to take to the skies, showing the world SpaceX is extending its lead in the commercial space race…
It is strange to think back to October when I saw a huge aluminium tube sitting on the SpaceX rocket workshop floor, pre-paint job. Before I realised it, that aluminium first stage shell was painted, branded, and shipped from Hawthorn (CA) to Cape Canaveral (FL) late last year. On December 30th, the Falcon 9 was fully integrated, and yesterday, the whole thing was hoisted upright between four launch pad lightning rods.
Having only just checked out the SpaceX website, I’ve realised the space launch company has released loads of great photos of the progress being made at the new Falcon 9 home, so I thought I’d post a preview of some of these images at the end of this short news update.
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Falcon 9 is now vertical at the Cape!
After a very smooth vehicle mating operation yesterday, we began the process of raising Falcon 9 at 12:45pm EST and approximately 30 minutes later, Falcon 9 was vertical at the Cape. The process of taking Falcon 9 vertical was a critical step in preparation for our first Falcon 9 launch later this year. This accomplishment culminates several months of rapid progress, made possible only through the hard work and dedication of the entire SpaceX team. –SpaceX Updates (Jan. 10th, 2009)
With this kind of speedy progress being made at Cape Canaveral, plus the recent $1.6 billion contract signed by NASA for 12 SpaceX space station cargo flights for the next decade, it’s little wonder Elon Musk’s rocket launch startup might be feeling quite happy with themselves. They’ve even put together a nice time lapse video of Falcon 9 going vertical…
Update (Jan. 12th): For those of you (below) who have concerns about the pollution dumped in the atmosphere by rockets, check out Ethan Siegel’s article on Starts With A Bang all about the pollution of rocketry…