The delays in SpaceX’s commercial launch schedule appear caused by a series of problems testing the first stage’s upgraded engines.


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The delays in SpaceX’s commercial launch schedule appear caused by a series of problems testing the first stage’s upgraded engines.

The article also provides this updated scheduling information:

A successful test will be key for several of SpaceX’s future ambitions, not least their upcoming increase in launch frequency, with the next Falcon 9 – the debut of the v1.1 – set to loft Canada’s space weather satellite, CASSIOPE, out of Vandenberg Air Force Base. This mission has officially slipped to August, with the likelihood it will be re-targeted to September. Focus will then switch to Cape Canaveral, with two satellite missions, the first carrying SES-8, to be followed by the Thaicom 6 launch.

I had suspected the delays were related to the upgrades to Falcon 9. This article confirms this.

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5 comments

  • wodun

    It is a little surprising that NASA let them do the earlier missions without their final engine.

    The delays are understandable but there will be some drama for the first launch with the new engines.

  • The Merlin 1C was a more mature engine. I hear there’s annoyance at NASA that SpaceX have slipped in the Falcon 9 v1.1 for contracts they won with the Falcon 9 v1.0.

  • SpaceX has never made a secret of their aggressive engineering schedule. If SpaceX did indeed ‘slip in’ an unproven engine on contracted flights, then, yes, there’s cause for concern. But I’m inclined to give SpaceX the benefit of the doubt, as NASA has become increasingly the moribund, hidebound legacy agency.

  • Chris Kirkendall

    In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit up front that I’m a fan of SpaceX. You’d think it would NOT be in SpaceX’s interest to begin using an engine they haven’t thoroughly tested & have full confidence in. If there’s a failure, they’re gonna end up with egg on their face – or worse. But I guess that hasn’t stopped people before – the engineers who were concerned about the Shuttle’s o-rings were ignored so NASA could keep to its launch schedule. Does anyone know if SpaceX is planning a test launch of the full Falcon 9 w/uprated engines before a contracted misson takes place ??

  • Roland

    SpaceX should have kept flying the original version for NASA until the new one had been proven. From what I know, NASA is requiring SpaceX to fly two or three successful missions with the new rocket (yes, new rocket -not just engines) before allowing it to dock with the ISS. I can understand why NASA was upset.

    About the only things the same between the two versions are the construction techniques and materials. The new version has different engines, different stage separation mechanism, different engine controllers, different size (and strength) tanks, and different thrust structure.

    Delays in getting a new rocket off the ground are understandable. Delays in NASA’s launch schedule because SpaceX chose to deploy a new rocket instead of using their existing, proven one aren’t!

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