[Satellite TODAY 04-27-12] NASA and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station have approved a request from commercial launch provider SpaceX to set a May 7 target launch date for the upcoming Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) 2 mission, SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Grantham confirmed April 26.
SpaceX’s second demonstration launch for NASA’s COTS program was originally scheduled for April 30 after the California-based company completed a NASA flight readiness review. Grantham said that after SpaceX reviewed its recent progress, the company decided it needed more time to finish hardware-in-the-loop testing. “We also needed to properly review and follow up on all data from the testing,” Grantham said in a statement. “While it is still possible that we could launch on May 3, it would be wise to add a few more days of margin in case things take longer than expected.”
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will carry a Dragon capsule for the COTS 2 demo as it lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Dragon capsule will then conduct a series of checkout procedures to test and prove its systems, including rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station (ISS).
The primary objectives for the flight include a flyby of the ISS at a distance of approximately 1.5 miles to validate the operation of sensors and flight systems necessary for a safe rendezvous and approach. The spacecraft also will demonstrate the ability to abort the rendezvous. After these capabilities are successfully proven, the Dragon will be cleared to berth with the ISS.