Saturday, February 23, 2008

SpaceX Falcon 9 & Dragon

Thanks to Next Big Future (via the Carnival of Space), I learned about some recent developments at SpaceX, including the success of a preliminary design review with NASA for their Dragon spacecraft (unmanned cargo version) to approach the ISS on a test mission. The plan is for a first launch of Falcon 9 with Dragon for a brief (5 hour) non-ISS test mission in the fourth quarter of this year, followed by an extensive 5-day "station keeping" ISS test mission in Q2 2009. Then in Q3 2009, there would be a full Dragon test mission to the ISS, including approach and "mating" (with an empty cargo capsule). The brief video above shows how docking will work.

This is an amazing schedule, and I hope it all works out. They have been doing test stand multi-engine firings for the Falcon 9, but no test flights so far (the first demo flight of Falcon 9 is also scheduled for Q4 of this year).

Attention Orbiter add-on builders: is anyone working on add-ons for the Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 launch vehicle? These puppies will be flying soon! There is a Falcon 1 add-on available - just downloaded it to try.