At present, it appears that
we are on track for a launch next week, possibly as soon as Monday. We
had a very successful static fire yesterday that proceeded smoothly
with no aborts.
initial review of the data showed that the rocket functioned almost
perfectly. The only remaining concern is that the GPS portion of the
guidance system showed an anomaly about 15 minutes *after* the static
Falcon 1 is designed to achieve its target orbit purely on
inertial navigation, so the GPS, while helpful for improving orbit
inseration accuracy, is not flight critical.
We are carefully analyzing
the GPS and, more importantly, are making sure that the GPS problem
does not hint at some larger issue. I will send out an update on Sunday
confirming what day we will have our first countdown attempt. In the
meantime, here are two videos of the static fire, one from a medium
distance camera and one from a high speed close up camera. There will
be a total of 12 cameras looking at the rocket on launch day, including
two thermal imaging and two vehicle cams, so no shortage visual data.
I know it has been a year
since our last launch and some people are wondering if launch 3 will
also be a year away if something goes wrong this time. The answer is
definitely no. The reason it took us a year is that the vehicle on the
pad and the ground support equipment have hundreds of robustness
upgrades -- this is really Falcon 1 version 2.
There is nothing
significant that we can think of to improve the vehicles under
construction for the Dept of Defense and Malaysian satellite launches
later this year. Therefore, no matter what happens, I do not expect
there to be a significant delay in their approximate end of summer and
mid fall launch dates.
On a separate note, we have
made tremendous progress with the Falcon 9 development and I'm way
overdue in posting a big update on progress. Should have that out
sometime next month. Between ramping up for NASA COTS and the F1
launch, time has been a little tight around here :)
The videos of the static fire can be seen at: