Saturday, October 6, 2012

SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch: Weather Still at 60%; Space Debris Will Not Affect Launch

Left to right: Mike Suffredini, Gwynne Shotwell, Mike McAleenan

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida - The launch weather officer for the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch said at a press conference Saturday night that the weather remains at 60% “go” for Sunday night’s 8:35 pm liftoff. 
Mike McAleenan of the 45th Weather Squadron said that currently the weather outlook improves to 80% on Monday and Tuesday nights.
On Sunday, “Thick Clouds” and “Flight Through Precipitation” are rules violations that may be in effect.  These are reduced on Monday to “Thick Clouds” and then “Cumulus Cloud” issues on Tuesday.
As well, a potential International Space Station move on Monday due to space debris will not alter the launch schedule, according to Mike Suffredini, International Space Station program manager.
“It might take SpaceX a little longer to get there,” Suffredini said.  “But we will not ask them to change their schedule.  We can adjust the orbit (of the ISS).”
President of SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell, said that she is excited to be “at the Cape” for the first official cargo resupply mission.  “We have a great relationship and partnership with NASA, the FAA, and the Air Force,” she added.
She said that if the launch proceeds on Sunday evening, it will take the Dragon capsule about 53 hours to rendezvous with the space station.
She also said there are no major changes to this Falcon 9 as compared to their last launch except an “enhanced Flight Termination System.”
Suffredini said that relying on SpaceX will help when there are problems on the ISS.  He noted that the flight manifest on this launch was altered due to some required equipment replacement needs.
“It is nice to have a US indigenous capability,” Suffredini said.  “We can process changes faster and work anomalies in real-time.”
The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch is scheduled for Sunday night at 8:35 pm with an “instantaneous launch window.”  Shotwell said that this was due to the inability to recycle in time for another attempt.  Suffredini noted that the space shuttle only had a 10-minute window on ISS missions and that other foreign launch vehicles also have this restriction.


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