Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2006
The tentative launch window for the maiden flight of Falcon 1 is March 20 through 25. The gating items are receiving a shipment of liquid oxygen (LOX) from Hawaii and switching out the 2nd stage tank. Obviously, long term operations on Kwaj will require that we install a state-of-the-art, high reliability LOX plant on island. In the meantime, we will get through first launch with LOX shipments from Hawaii and whatever output we can generate from the sad, old clunker of a LOX plant that we currently own.
We are also replacing the 2nd stage tank, following discovery of a small leak. Fortunately, a Falcon 2nd stage tank just barely fits through the door of a standard cargo airplane (no C-17 required), so the flight is relatively inexpensive and readily available. Fixing the leak in the tank being shipped back is not a huge task, but also not something easily done far away from the factory. Countdown procedures have been modified to prevent such leaks from developing in the future.
The static fire performed during the last countdown attempt was really helpful as a preflight systems checkout, so we will be doing one again three or four days before the next countdown (most likely March 17). In addition, we are doing another systems review with DARPA, AF and NASA in early March.
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