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CRS-5 LAUNCH UPDATE

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Today, SpaceX completed a successful static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket in advance of the CRS-5 mission for NASA. The test was conducted at SpaceX’s Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and ran for the full planned duration.

SpaceX also conducted a static fire test on December 17 and while the test accomplished nearly all goals, it did not run the full duration.   The data suggested we could have pushed forward without a second attempt, but out of an abundance of caution, we opted to execute a second test.

Given the extra time needed for data review and testing, coupled with the limited launch date availability due to the holidays and other restrictions, our earliest launch opportunity is now January 6 with January 7 as a backup.  A few times a year, the ISS orbits through a high beta angle period. This is where the angle between the ISS orbital plane and the sun is high, resulting in the ISS being in almost constant sunlight for a 10 day period.  During this time, there are thermal and operational constraints that prohibit Dragon from being allowed to berth with the ISS.  This high beta period runs from December 28, 2014 – January 7, 2015.  Note that for a launch on January 6, Dragon berths on January 8.

After today’s successful static fire, our teams are looking forward to launch just after the New Year.