1/14/17 SpaceX Return to Flight
It matters to NASA !!
Today SpaceX hopes a Return to Flight after the fuel loading operation had an explosion
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NASA’s relies on commercial contractors for supplies, transported to LEO (Low Earth Orbit) on the ISS. SpaceX also has more responsibility in their contracted service as they are the ONLY means to return the completed science (the ISS main mission) in a timely matter. This is refereed to as ‘down mass” while transport to the ISS is “up mass”.
Some quick priorities before the RTF
1) Investigation & Cleanup of launch complex (not released to the public as yet)
2) Acceptance of the results
3) Create new procedures for fuel loading
4) Plan for return to flight
5) Obtain FAA license for launch
NASA has its reputation/investment on the line. Several programs within NASA are linked to SpaceX being successful in this RTF
These programs are in trouble!
We will go deeper into these programs in future, but until then these early looks are linked here.
Commercial Resupply talked about above.
Commercial Crew Transport of humans to the ISS replacing Russia Soyuz
Everyone talking about Russians should read this blog.
Also NASA has contracted with SpaceX for several other missions.
SpaceX was the low cost bidder for these launches that include earth science missions, and NOAA climate change research missions. They all have schedules built into the timeline to launch, and disruptions can become costly.
SpaceX also has contracted with NASA for use of the deep space hardware and operations (including NASA employees) for Elon Musk’s dream of landing a Dragon spacecraft on Mars. This program is called Red Dragon.
The bottom line
It all comes down to money $$
SpaceX needs cash for its operations, and that cash only comes from doing successful launches.
CBS Interview with Gwynne Shotwell:
Currently two years of major launch problems from explosions have hurt SpaceX, and NASA. These financial problems are laid out in the recent WSJ article.