In some ways, this was inevitable, but in others, it’s just plain frustrating.
In January, the powerful Falcon 9 launch vehicle was hoisted vertically at the new SpaceX launch pad at Cape Canaveral. However, that was only temporary. As the first test launch wasn’t expected until late summer, SpaceX was deep in technical work and systems testing.
Now, due to a combination of delayed paperwork and overruns, SpaceX is now looking at a fall launch, several months later than hoped.
“It’s basically dealing with the complexities associated with lifting a new rocket off from a new launch site,” said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell.
According to Shotwell, the huge quantities of safety documentation required by space operations veteran Brig. Gen. Edward Bolton of the Air Force’s 45th Space Wing, are unfinished. “There is a huge amount of documentation that gets passed to the range and lots of meetings, and that process just takes a long time,” she added.
Although the rocket remained vertical at the Cape for several days at the start of 2009, SpaceX has since been working on the nine Merlin 1C engines that will need to be integrated into the waiting first stage at Launch Complex 40.
Launching rockets is no easy task, as not only do you need to worry about making the launch a success you have to satisfy a lot of red tape, proving the safety of the vehicle. But this will still be a huge disappointment for SpaceX as the longer the Falcon 9 is grounded, the longer Elon Musk’s company will have to wait for payday.
“We don’t get paid to sit on the ground.” –Shotwell
Fortunately, SpaceX doesn’t give exact launch times until a day or so in advance of lift-off, so hopefully there will be minimal disruption to the projected dates of commercial launches.
Here’s to hoping for a late-2009 launch!
Source: The Flame Trench