First Operational SpaceX Launch Set for October 9 or 10, But Could Be Earlier
Speaking at a press conference after today's successful International Space Station (ISS) spacewalk, NASA officials said that the first operational SpaceX cargo launch to ISS is scheduled for October 9 or 10, but could be as early as October 5.
The reason for the launch date uncertainty is when the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will be available for the launch. SpaceX launches from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) on that range, which is adjacent to NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Right now the range is not free until October 9 or 10, but SpaceX will be ready to go as early as October 5.
NASA said it would prefer the 5th because it is trying to squeeze in the mission before the arrival of a Soyuz spacecraft with three new ISS crewmembers. That Soyuz is scheduled for launch on October 15 and would dock on October 17 if it follows the usual profile.
SpaceX completed the test phase of its commercial cargo program in May with the successful launch, berthing and recovery of the Dragon capsule. Now the program moves into the operational phase. SpaceX is under contract to provide 12 cargo launches for NASA between now and 2015.
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