Bad Astronomy

SpaceX to launch Dragon capsule December 7

[UPDATE (December 8, 9:00 MT): The rocket launched! It was a perfect throw to space, and the Dragon space capsule was successfully deployed in orbit.]

[NOTE: SpaceX is webcasting their static engine firing of the Falcon 9 at about 12: 45 ET today! These are very exciting and worth watching.]

[Update: The static firing went pretty well, looks like. However, the Shuttle’s not as healthy: NASA has announced the launch of Discovery has been delayed to around February 3, to give them time to investigate the cracks in the external fuel tank more carefully.]

spacex_dragonNASA has announced that the private company SpaceX will launch their second Falcon 9 rocket on December 7. This time, the Dragon space capsule will be on top of the stack! The plan is to get it into space, and then de-orbit it. If this works, it will be the first time a commercial company will have ever done this. The launch window runs from 09:03 to 12:22 EST, and if the launch is delayed the same time window exists for December 8 and 9.

The launch will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

This will be the first launch in NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation System, where NASA partners with private companies to transport crew and supplies to space. Personally, I love this idea. As I’ve said before (scroll down to #2 of My opinion on the new space policy), let private companies do the routine deliveries, and let NASA always keep looking ahead to what’s next.