Less than two years after SpaceX began producing the Merlin 1D engines that power the Falcon 9 rocket, the 100th Merlin 1D engine is complete. SpaceX is currently the largest private producer of rocket engines in the world.
The Merlin 1D is an all-American engine designed and built in-house at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. Engines are currently manufactured at a rate of four per week, projected to rise to five per week by the end of 2014.
WASHINGTON — A boat that entered restricted waters forced Orbital Sciences Corp. to postpone the launch of a Cygnus cargo spacecraft Oct. 27.
The launch of the Antares rocket, scheduled for 6:45 pm EDT, was scrubbed when a sailboat entered a restricted zone off the coast from the launch site at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia. The boat was not able to leave the zone before the ten-minute launch window closed.
There were no technical issues reported with the Antares rocket or the Cygnus spacecraft prior to the scrub, and weather conditions were favorable. Orbital Sciences and NASA announced the next launch attempt would be Oct. 28 at 6:22 pm EDT. Forecasts call for a 95 percent chance of acceptable weather at the new launch time.
Orbital Sciences Corporation – with their new version of their Antares rocket – will have to wait 24 hours to begin their fourth Cygnus mission to the International Space Station due to a scrub on Monday. Liftoff, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia, could not occur due to a boat failing to get out of the Range Safety area in time.
The weather was perfect, the rocket was perfect, the spacecraft was perfect, but the launch of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Orb-3 cargo mission to the International Space Station was scrubbed this evening because a boat was in restricted waters off the launch site at Wallops Island, VA.
Waters off any of the U.S. launch sites are restricted during launches to protect people and property from debris in case of an accident. Apparently the operators of this one did not heed notices that the area was restricted.
WASHINGTON — In an unusually busy period of visiting vehicle activity at the international space station, one commercial cargo vehicle returned to Earth Oct. 25 as another was prepared for an Oct. 27 launch.
The station’s robotic arm detached the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Dragon vehicle from the ISS and released it at 9:59 am EDT Oct. 25. The spacecraft re-entered the atmosphere later the same day, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean about 500 kilometers west of Baja California, Mexico, at 3:39 pm EDT.
At a Launch Readiness Review Sunday, Oct. 26, managers for Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Virginia, and NASA gave a “go” to proceed toward the Monday, Oct. 27, launch of the Orbital CRS-3 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. Orbital is targeting a 6:45 p.m. EDT launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 5:45 p.m.
AMERICA’S FIRST CORPS of astronauts, known as the Mercury Seven, had it pretty rough back in 1959. Selected from hundreds of elite pilots, they had to endure a battery of grueling tests: running on treadmills for hours, blowing up balloons repeatedly to gauge their lung capacity, being exposed to extreme heat, vibration and loud noises. None could weigh over 180 pounds or be taller than 5-foot-11. And they needed to have logged at least 1,500 hours of flying time in a traditional aircraft.
The bar has since lowered drastically, especially for ordinary citizens hoping to catch a ride aboard the commercial “space-tourism” flights that have either launched or have plans to do so as soon as early next year. Just ask the 700 ticket holders who’ve paid up to $250,000 to ride with Virgin Galactic 50 miles above the earth, or the 300 who have signed up for a similar offering by XCOR (at a cost of $95,000). Overweight? Probably not a problem. Heavy smoker? The sky may still be the limit. Even if you think you haven’t got the right stuff, you might. It could just take a bit of training to get you there.