Spaceflight Now Home





The Mission




Rocket: Falcon 9
Payload: Dragon
Date: Dec. 8, 2010
Launch time: 1543 GMT (10:43 a.m. EST)
Landing time: 1902 GMT (2:02 p.m. EST)
Site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida

Mission Status Center

Post-flight reaction

Preview story

What could go wrong?

Countdown timeline

Launch timeline

Entry timeline

Preflight engine test

Rocket rollout

Re-entry license

Launch rescheduled

Falcon 9 tanking test

Rocket arrives at Cape

Falcon 9 user's guide

Our Falcon archive






NewsAlert



Sign up for our NewsAlert service and have the latest news in astronomy and space e-mailed direct to your desktop.

Enter your e-mail address:

Privacy note: your e-mail address will not be used for any other purpose.



FAA issues first commercial re-entry license to SpaceX
BY STEPHEN CLARK
SPACEFLIGHT NOW

Posted: November 22, 2010


Bookmark and Share

The Federal Aviation Administration granted SpaceX a commercial re-entry license Monday for next month's roundtrip test flight of the Dragon spacecraft, clearing a major regulatory hurdle before the first demo under NASA's commercial cargo development program.

 
A Dragon spacecraft undergoes a parachute test off the coast of California in August. Credit: Roger Gilbertson/SpaceX
 
It was the first re-entry license issued to a private firm by the FAA, which oversees commercial space activity and grants approval for corporate rocket launches and landings. The license is valid for one year from the date of issue, according to SpaceX.

SpaceX plans to launch the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule no earlier than Dec. 7, but the flight's timing depends on the conclusion of ground testing to verify the craft's readiness.

The scheduled Dec. 3 launch of the shuttle Discovery could also push back the SpaceX flight. One of the shuttle's two solid rocket booster recovery ships will be sent back into the Atlantic Ocean to attempt retrieval of the Falcon 9 first stage.

It takes about seven days to turn around one of the recovery ships between shuttle and Falcon 9 flights.

The FAA approved SpaceX's launch license application in October. The agency has issued licenses for more than 200 launches, according to an FAA statement.

The agency reviews public safety issues, environmental impacts, payloads, national security and foreign policy concerns, and appropriate insurance, the FAA statement said.

Next month's Dragon test flight is expected to last several hours, accomplishing between one and three orbits of Earth testing the spacecraft's propulsion, navigation, control and communications systems at an altitude of about 150 miles.

The Dragon will be programmed to fire its thrusters to return to Earth a few hours after launch, falling by parachute into an area cleared of air and sea traffic a few hundred miles off the coast of southern California.

"This will be the first attempt by a commercial company to recover a spacecraft re-entering from low Earth orbit," SpaceX said in a statement. "It is a feat performed by only 6 nations or governmental agencies: the United States, Russia, China, Japan, India, and the European Union."

The mission is the first demonstration under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS, program. SpaceX is developing the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft with federal and private funds to ferry supplies to and from the International Space Station after the shuttle's retirement.

NASA contracted for 12 cargo flights from SpaceX in a deal valued at $1.6 billion.

If the December flight goes well, SpaceX plans a second Dragon mission between April and June to prove the capsule's rendezvous sensors during a close approach fo the space station. The company wants to combine the second and third COTS demos and berth to the complex in the spring of 2011, but NASA is withholding approval of the change pending the outcome of next month's mission.

John Glenn Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Final Shuttle Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Celebrate the shuttle program

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Anniversary Shuttle Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Mercury anniversary

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!


Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Fallen Heroes Patch Collection
The official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

INDEX | PLUS | NEWS ARCHIVE | LAUNCH SCHEDULE
ASTRONOMY NOW | STORE

ADVERTISE

© 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.