LONDON — Piloting fighter jets, floating in zero gravity and spinning at a belly-flattening speed in a centrifuge are not the things a regular tourist is asked to do before a dream holiday. But this is exactly what Per Wimmer has been doing during 13 years of waiting for his trip — to outer space.
For the 45-year-old London-based Danish entrepreneur and financier, it won’t even be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So far, he has bought three tickets from companies offering space tourism: Virgin Galactic, Space Adventures and XCOR Aerospace.
Wimmer expects to blast into the blackness overhead within the next 18 months, “on whichever rocket becomes available first,” he said. When he first found out that private citizens had an opportunity to take a peek beyond Earth’s surface, it took him less than 48 hours to pony up the $100,000 to sign up.
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SpaceX’s Emily Shanklin replies that yes, “Monday is the earliest possible date.” No other details. Meanwhile, Bill Harwood of CBS News reports that if the launch does, indeed, go on Monday, the launch window is 5:41 – 7:07 pm ET.
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With its first tenant and a $1.8 million state grant in hand, Jacksonville Aviation Authority officials are looking to construct a hangar designed to accommodate commercial launch vehicles at the west Jacksonville airport.
JAA will match the $1.8 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation and Space Florida, the state organization responsible for fostering growth in Florida’s space industry. The final cost of the hangar could be more than $4 million and will be completed by early 2015, according to Todd Lindner, JAA’s senior manager of aviation planning and spaceport development.
Meanwhile, Generation Orbit Launch Services Inc., the spaceport’s first tenant, is preparing for two test launches next year off Cecil’s runway in ahead of its first commercial launch in 2016.
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PARIS — SpaceX will take several days to examine the causes of a slower-than-expected increase in pressure in the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage cryogenic oxygen tank that forced a last-second scrub of its planned Nov. 28 launch of the SES-8 telecommunications satellite.
The first of two countdown aborts occurred at T minus zero second — the moment of ignition of the first-stage engines. SpaceX had hoped to nail down the issue within the time it took to restart the countdown at T minus 13 minutes, but at T minus one minute 48 seconds decided that this countdown too should be aborted.
“We called manual abort. Better to be paranoid and wrong. Bringing rocket down to borescope engines,” SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted after the second abort of the day.
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Three days after technical glitches scrubbed a launch attempt of its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, SpaceX tried again Thursday—and almost made it this time. The countdown for a planned 5:39 pm EST (2239 GMT) launch on Thanksgiving Day went smoothly, but at T-0, as the nine Merlin 1D engines ignited, an abort was called while the rocket was still firmly clamped down to the launch pad.
SpaceX officials, including CEO Elon Musk, said the last-second abort was triggered automatically when the thrust of the first stage engines didn’t ramp up as planned. SpaceX recycled the count to try again at the end of the launch window, 6:44 pm EST (2344 GMT), but scrubbed with just under a minute left in the countdown. Mission managers decided they did not have enough time to review the information from the earlier abort to clear the launch, and decided to call it a day (even though the customer for the launch, SES, had given permission to extend the launch window by 20 minutes.)
KennedySpaceCenter.com has posted a launch time for tomorrow to occur at 6:46pm EST. This is subject to change: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/events/2013/november/launch-falcon-9-ses-oct-tbd.aspx
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See photos from SpaceX’s SES-8 satellite launch mission atop a an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket.
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Topped with a television broadcasting satellite, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket fired its engines and was moments away from liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Thursday, but the commercial booster aborted the launch after computers detected the engines were too slow building up thrust.
Engineers raced to understand and resolve the problem, but they could not get comfortable enough to attempt the launch again before Thursday’s time-constrained flight opportunity closed.
Officials had not announced a new target launch date Thursday evening, but SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk posted on his Twitter account the mission would likely be delayed a few days.
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