[Satellite TODAY Insider 05-24-11] After the drama of the aborted launch of the Falcon 9 May 19, SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon 9 May 22, carrying the Dragon spacecraft towards the International Space Station. Now the company has signed its first deal for the Falcon Heavy vehicle and is set to announce it later this week. The Falcon Heavy represents SpaceX’s entry into the heavy lift launch vehicle category.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell gave her reaction to the successful launch of the Falcon 9 earlier this week. She told Satellite Today Insider, “The joy is pretty indescribable. The job is so difficult; a million things needs to work to be successful and they did!”
Shotwell also puts the events of last Saturday into perspective, when SpaceX had to dramatically abort the launch of the Falcon 9 in the last seconds. “Everything went as it should have on Saturday,” she said. “We had an issue. We found and fixed the problem and flew on the very next go. I am very proud of my team for how they handled the situation.”
The company is aiming to carve out a niche for itself in the launch services business, a difficult area to gain customers’ trust. Despite the events of last Saturday, Shotwell believes no damage has been done to the company’s reputation. “I think we impressed people precisely because Saturday's attempt was not dramatic — the system responded exactly the way it was supposed to,” she said. “Our customers were very supportive of how SpaceX responded. They have universally applauded our patience and maturity to stop the launch, review the issue, find root cause and fix it — rather than allowing launch fever to overtake us.”
Whether the events lead to a change of procedures is yet to be determined. “We are taking our time to determine if we need to change any procedure,” added Shotwell.