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Inaugural Falcon 9 / Dragon flight hardware update

Published by Matt on Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:03 am via: SpaceX
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Taking the rocket vertical was the most recent milestone in a series of key launch prep activities at the Cape in recent weeks. Prior to this, SpaceX fully integrated all flight hardware, mating the first stage, second stage and Dragon qualification spacecraft in the SpaceX hangar at SLC-40.

We then raised the entire vehicle and placed it on to the mobile transporter. The following days involved connecting the vehicle to the transporter’s support systems, including lines for RP-1 fuel, liquid oxygen (LOX), gaseous helium and nitrogen, as well as numerous electrical and data connections.

Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft fully integrated in the SpaceX hangar at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX

Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft fully integrated in the SpaceX hangar at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX

The full flight-ready Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft rolls out of the SpaceX hangar at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.

The full flight-ready Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft rolls out of the SpaceX hangar at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.

These attach to the vehicle through three umbilical connectors — two at the base of the first stage on opposite sides, and one at the top of the interstage that supplies the second stage. They remain connected until liftoff, when they detach and pull away from the departing vehicle, just as with the Falcon 1.

After verifying all the connections (leak checking the fluid and gas systems, and continuity checking the electrical systems), the team joined the entire flight-ready Falcon 9 to the launch support system for the first time. The process went very smoothly thanks to the efforts of our hardworking team down at the Cape.

The full flight-ready Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft rolls out of the SpaceX hangar at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.

The full flight-ready Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft rolls out of the SpaceX hangar at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.

Mounted on the mobile transporter, the full flight-ready Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft rolls to the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.

Mounted on the mobile transporter, the full flight-ready Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft rolls to the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.

Next, we opened the hangar doors and rolled the entire system out to the launch platform. There, we anchored to the launch mount, and connected the combined transporter/rocket to the ground-based feeds and support. We then conducted another set of system checks to verify those systems — the same set of liquids, gasses, electrical and data.

On the morning of Saturday 20 February, we brought the vehicle to vertical, and began preparations for tanking and static test firing.

The full flight-ready Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft stands on the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.

The full flight-ready Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft stands on the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.

Coming up next, we prepare the vehicle and launch pad for static firing. During the test firing we will collect data from numerous sensors on and around the vehicle, then review all data thoroughly prior to launch.

Aerial view of Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft on the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.

Aerial view of Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft on the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.

The full flight-ready Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft stands on the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX.

The full flight-ready Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft stands on the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX.

Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to progress towards the first flight of Falcon 9.

5 Comments
I really think that the Falcon 9 is a beautiful looking rocket! It's so sleek and "simple".

I wish SpaceX good luck for their maiden flight!
Oh and btw: I think an "I" went missing! ;)
Not just a missing I.

Published by Matt on Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:03 am via: SPace X

Looks like Matt's been too excited to maintain mastert of his keyboard while writing this..
Add me to the list.

Btw, where's the edit button for the comments?
Hats off to SpaceX and Elon Musk for having got this far. I will certainly be cheering on the Falcon 9 launch.

But while reaching for the stars, Mr Musk might like to look at problems closer to home - specifically the slum conditions in which the people of Ebeye Island live, just across the lagoon from SpaceX's Falcon 1 launch site at Omelek island on Kwajalein Atoll. It's a dormitory slum for the workers who service the facilities at Kwajalein. 15000 people crammed into an area smaller than the average golf course, living in shacks. Many of the kids don't go to school because there simply aren't enough teachers or desks.

SpaceX and Elon Musk certainly didn't create the problem, but now they are using Kwajalein, the problem has got something to do with them. SpaceX is showing itself adept at solving tough problems more cheaply than government has been able to before. So perhaps they could bend their mind to improving the living conditions on Ebeye too, and divert a tiny portion of the huge investment made in them by the US government to making some modest infrastructural improvements there?
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