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Private Sector Space Development: The Final Frontier

Private Sector Space Development: The Final Frontier - top government contractors - best government contracting event
SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket
SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket
SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has successfully test fired its Falcon 9, clearing a milestone toward the inaugural flight of a privately developed spaceship to fly cargo, and possibly astronauts, into orbit, the company said. Saturday’s 3.5-second ‘static’ firing of the Falcon’s nine kerosene and liquid oxygen-burning motors took place on a refurbished oceanside launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It followed an earlier firing test aborted last week due to an improperly configured valve.

“The test validated the launch pad propellant and pneumatic systems, as well as the ground and flight control software that controls pad and launch vehicle configurations,” according to SpaceX officials. “The completion of a successful static fire is the latest milestone on the path to the first flight of the Falcon 9, which will carry a Dragon spacecraft qualification unit to orbit.”

SpaceX holds a $1.6-billion contract with NASA to deliver 20 tons of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) through 2016. NASA has also contracted Virginia-based company Orbital Sciences, to provide cargo deliveries using the Taurus 2 rockets and their Cygnus spacecraft.  President Obama has placed an emphasis on investment in private companies like SpaceX to provide the next generation of launch vehicles for propelling astronauts into space after the cancellation of NASA’s Constellation program.

SpaceX’s launch vehicle, the Dragon, is currently in development, and competes with Boeing’s Orion Lite and SpaceDev’s Dream Chaser to be the next American vehicle to take humans into space.  Currently, the US has to buy seats on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry astronauts to and from the space station.

Hopefully, private companies will fill the U.S. leadership vacuum left by NASA’s departure from the human spaceflight arena.

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