SpaceX Prepares to Launch Its Falcon 9 Rocket this Friday
In this upcoming launch of Falcon 9, it will carry Cargo Resupply Services Mission 8 (CRS-8) for International Space Station. Meanwhile NASA has also appointed SpaceX and Boeing Space Exploration to carry its astronauts by the end of 2017.
This launch is the return flight of SpaceX's Dragon CRS spacecraft, which exploded in last year's launch carrying CRS-7 supply. Dragon is a spacecraft carried by Falcon 9 rocket launch vehicle. In June 28's launch last year, Falcon 9 exploded en route to the International Space Station.
According to SpaceX, the explosion was an unauthorized rapid disassembly of the airframe that followed flight anomaly. Falcon 9 which exploded in just two minutes after liftoff was a surprise to every one. It is because previously SpaceX had launched the rocket successfully for 18 times.
The company upgraded its rocket after a series of investigation and in December, it successfully launched upgraded version of Falcon 9 rocket for three times. This Friday, on April 8 SpaceX will carry another supply for International Space Station. According to The Observer, this launch will be the eighth contracted mission to be carried out by SpaceX under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.
NASA appointed SpaceX in a $1.6 billion contract to carry 15 Cargo Resupply Services for the International Space Station. The last year's failed launch was the seventh cargo carrying 2,000 kg (4,000 lbs) of food and supplies for ISS crew. Along with the destroyed cargo bound for ISS, there is also Microsoft's Hololens technology and experiment from 8th grade students to study composting using live worms
In Friday's launch, Dragon CRS spacecraft will carry 4,400 lbs of scientific research, perishables, and hardware to the Expedition 47 crew. SpaceX will launch Dragon into space with reusable Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral.
The reusable rocket will reduce rocket launch cost significantly. Sputnik International reported that reusable booster will cut the cost of space launch by 30%. President and chief operating officer of SpaceX Gwynne Shotwell said that Falcon 9 rocket would only cost $43 million, rather than the current $61 million.
NASA has also anticipated to contract SpaceX along with Boeing Space Exploration to launch astronauts into space. Two years ago, NASA gave Boeing a $4.2 billion contract to develop and use CST-100 Starliner capsule, which capable to carry up to seven astronauts. While SpaceX received a $2.6 billion contract for its Dragon V2 capsule.
However, both companies must first complete their demostration first, including spacecraft carrying astronauts. Florida Politics reported NASA Chief Financial Officer David Radzanowsk reported to NASA Advisory Council, "It includes a whole bunch of other ground tests, and one un-crewed demonstration test (flight) and one crewed demonstration test, in 2017."
Prior to carry astronauts, SpaceX must continue its cargo mission first. The company will launch its Falcon 9 rocket carrying cargo for International Space Station on Friday.
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