Obama looks up at Falcon 9
SpaceX inches closer to a launch date for its Falcon 9 inaugural flight. The last item left is the reqired FTS (flight termination system).
“As we continue to progress towards the first Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral, certification of the flight termination system (FTS) and subsequent range availability remain the two primary schedule drivers.
Air Force Range safety requires the FTS system, which allows them to safely end the launch should the vehicle stray from its designated flight corridor. The system consists of a command receiver and an ordnance system designed to split the vehicle’s fuel and liquid oxygen tanks in the event of an errant flight.” -SpaceX
According to the SpaceX press release only a few months after the initial Falcon 9 flight they will launch the second flight of Falcon 9. This will be a COTS flight and will include the Dragon spacecraft.
“Our second Falcon 9 flight, which will be the first launch under the NASA COTS program, will carry our first operational Dragon spacecraft to orbit. If all goes as planned, liftoff should occur a few months after the inaugural Falcon 9 flight.
This “COTS 1” Dragon will perform several orbits of the Earth, followed by reentry and splashdown off the coast of Southern California. We will gather performance data and retire significant amounts of risk on key spacecraft systems, including Draco thrusters, the Dragon communication systems, PICA-X high performance heat shield material, and other critical navigation, reentry, landing and recovery systems.
This first COTS mission will pave the way for the following COTS and CRS flights to demonstrate, and then actually provide, commercial cargo transport to and from the International Space Station in support of its continued growth and operation.”