Musk: First SpaceX COTS Flight Will Demonstrate Dragon Spacecraft Maneuvering
[Satellite TODAY 10-06-10] SpaceX’s upcoming NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration mission will launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla.. and will a flight plan nearly identical to Falcon 9’s June debut launch, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in an Oct. 5 statement.
Musk said the difference between the Falcon 9 debut and the first COTS launch is that the Dragon spacecraft will separate from the second stage and demonstrate operational communications, navigation, maneuvering and reentry.
“This second launch is still very much a demonstration mission and will be our first attempt to bring a spacecraft from orbit back to Earth — another incredibly difficult challenge. … While Dragon will initially make water landings over the long term, Dragon will be landing on land. For this first demo flight, Dragon will make multiple orbits of the Earth as we test all of its systems and will then fire its thrusters to begin re-entry, returning to Earth for a Pacific Ocean splashdown off the coast of Southern California. The entire mission should last around four hours,” Musk said.
Under COTS, NASA is partnering with commercial companies like SpaceX and Orbital Sciences to develop and demonstrate space transportation capabilities to the International Space Station.