HAWTHORNE, Calif.--Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) has completed the Systems Requirements Review (SRR) for what will be the third Falcon 9 / Dragon demonstration under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. NASA representatives attended the event, held on the first day of regular business operations at SpaceX's new headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
Under COTS, SpaceX will conduct three Falcon 9 / Dragon flights, demonstrating the ability to approach, berth, and ultimately deliver cargo to the $100 billion International Space Station (ISS), and return cargo to Earth. On this third demonstration, the Dragon spacecraft will approach the ISS and hold its position nearby. Then, according to the SpaceX plan, a robotic arm on the station will capture Dragon and guide it to a berthing port on the Harmony module.
"When the hatch opens, a new era in space transportation will begin," said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. "By providing commercial delivery services to orbit, SpaceX will transform the way the government and private entities access space. The Falcon 9 / Dragon system will ensure that there is no gap in US space transportation capabilities following retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2010."
SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station, where it is grappled by a robotic arm, then attached to the station's docking adapter. (Graphic: SpaceX.com).
During the meeting, all comments and questions raised by NASA's experts were addressed by the SpaceX design team. "Because we connect to the ISS on this mission, NASA applied significant additional scrutiny to ensure the safety of the station and its crew," said Max Vozoff, SpaceX Mission Manager. By receiving NASA approval for this review, SpaceX continues its record of successfully meeting all COTS milestones on schedule.
Although these demonstrations are for cargo re-supply, SpaceX designed the Dragon spacecraft to transport up to seven astronauts to Earth orbit and back.
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is developing a family of launch vehicles intended to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of both manned and unmanned space transportation. With its Falcon launch vehicles, SpaceX offers light, medium and heavy lift capabilities to deliver spacecraft into any inclination and altitude, from low Earth orbit to geosynchronous orbit to planetary missions.
Roger G. Gilbertson, 310.363.6446