SpaceX completes important 'wet dress' rehearsal test for upcoming flight to space station

Mar 05, 2012 By Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today
Photo from the successful Falcon 9 launch readiness test on March 1, 2012 in preparation for the upcoming mission to the International Space Station. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX successfully completed a key test of the Falcon 9 rocket that will fly the first commercial flight to the International Space Station. Called a ‘wet dress rehearsal,’ SpaceX brought the Falcon 9 "stack" with the Dragon capsule atop to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral on March 1, and loaded it with 76,000 gallons of highly refined kerosene and liquid oxygen fuel. Pre-liftoff operations were conducted as engineers went through a full count-down simulation, stopping at 5 seconds before ‘launch.’

SpaceX said the test was a success and was an important step on the road to the . “The test went well,” said SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Grantham. “Over the coming days, we will continue to review the data as we prepare for our upcoming mission.”

The launch of this historic flight will likely be April 20, or later, depending on the results of this and other tests.

Dawn at Cape Canaveral during the wet dress rehearsal test. Credit: SpaceX and Elon Musk, via Twitter.

After the wet dress rehearsal, the fuel was drained, and the rocket was later rolled off the launch pad on March 2, and the SpaceX said Dragon will be taken off for additional testing.

Additionally, on March 2, SpaceX conducted another test, called a 9-engine test, firing the engines for a future 9 rocket. This took place near McGregor, Texas.

As the “real” launch date approaches for the current rocket, the Falcon 9 will again be brought to the Launchpad to fire the nine first-stage engines and practice late packing of cargo in the Dragon.

“These rehearsals allow SpaceX to test out both the vehicle and the ground systems before launch,” Grantham said.

SpaceX is working towards becoming the first commercial spacecraft to dock with the ISS under NASA’s commercial orbital transportation services (COTS) commercial crew development (CCDev) programs. Later this year, another COTS company, Orbital Sciences hopes to their Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule from Wallops Island, Virginia.

Explore further: Manchester scientists boost NASA's missions to Mars

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

SpaceX delays upcoming 1st Dragon launch to ISS

Jan 17, 2012

The first test launch of a commercially built spacecraft to the International Space Station has been delayed by its builder, Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX, in order to carry out additional testing ...

US space capsule launch set for Wednesday

Dec 07, 2010

A US company has received the go-ahead to launch its first space capsule into orbit Wednesday, in a key test for the future of commercial space flight as NASA looks to end its shuttle program.

Recommended for you

ESA image: The gold standard

3 hours ago

The Eutelsat-9B satellite with its EDRS-A payload is shown in the anechoic test chamber of Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France, having completed its final antenna pattern tests today.

Frost-covered chaos on Mars

3 hours ago

Thanks to a break in the dusty 'weather' over the giant Hellas Basin at the beginning of this year, ESA's Mars Express was able to look down into the seven kilometre-deep basin and onto the frosty surface ...

Rosetta's comet: In the shadow of the coma

10 hours ago

This NAVCAM mosaic comprises four individual images taken on 20 November from a distance of 30.8 km from the centre of Comet 67P/C-G. The image resolution is 2.6 m/pixel, so each original 1024 x 1024 pixel ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sanescience
not rated yet Mar 10, 2012
I'm sure their taking their time to do it right, but the anticipation is killing me.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.