Monday, December 6, 2010

SpaceX Launch Delayed Until ...

A crack in an upper stage nozzle has postponed the SpaceX COTS-1 launch.

... Thursday. But it could be Wednesday. Or maybe later.

Florida Today reports that the December 7 test flight of the SpaceX Falcon 9 with Dragon capsule has been postponed.

SpaceX is hasn't ruled out the possibility of a Wednesday Falcon 9 launch pending evaluation of repair options for a cracked upper stage engine nozzle.

A NASA news release said the crack measured three inches long. It said SpaceX was considering several options including repairing the crack or shipping a replacement part from California.

The company earlier today estimated the launch would occur no earlier than Thursday, with a slip to Friday or Saturday if the nozzle needed to be replaced. After further analysis, the "no earlier than" date was then advanced to Wednesday.

The SpaceX web site has a press kit for the flight, dubbed "COTS Flight 1." Click here to download. You need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the file.

UPDATE December 7, 2010 9:30 AM ESTFlorida Today has this update on the COTS-1 launch.

SpaceX engineers said the cracks were in a thin, low-stress area that would not cause a flight to fail but must be studied further to ensure there isn't a more serious problem.

The nozzle could be trimmed to remove the cracked area, which helps provide a level of efficiency not required for the upcoming mission.

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