SpaceX In New Mexico

I had speculated after the almost-successful drone ship landings that SpaceX had abandoned plans to do flight testing at Spaceport America, but apparently that’s not the case:

The original plan was to use the site for test flights of the second F9R Development Vehicle, known as F9R Dev2, a follow on vehicle from the impressive Grasshopper and F9R Dev1 vehicles that paved the way for the propulsive landing attempts.

Those vehicles were tested at SpaceX’s McGregor test site in Texas, but were restricted by an altitude ceiling, resulting in the decision to conduct tests at Spaceport America, at much greater altitudes.

2015-03-19 23_21_49-spacex falcon 9 reusable f9r fins – Google SearchNow, based on the advances made during recent missions, it appears SpaceX is hoping to promote the role of Spaceport America, specifically to put the first recovered stage through its paces.

Those tests will be used to find hardware limits, such as how many cycles can be put on a stage, while the second successfully recovered booster would provide the role of qualification testing.

Should the recovery efforts progress, the first launch of a reused booster is likely to occur in late 2016.

Interesting. What I don’t understand is why the helium tanks are a concern for the Turkmenistansat mission, but not for CRS.

2 thoughts on “SpaceX In New Mexico”

  1. A speculation about helium tanks:

    I do remember these have been a delay problem for previous launches, and there was talk of switching their manufacture to in-house work. Is it possible this is the last launch to use subcontractor helium tanks, and the CRS tanks are the first in-house tanks?

  2. The reason the missions switched order is that it’s easier to switch out the tank for the CRS mission. The Turkmenistansat vehicle was fully assembled and on the transport/erector system.

    In neither case is the tank defective, but apparently there were some others that recently didn’t meet the full test range. So this is precautionary.

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