Published: Sat, February 18, 2017
Research | By Jo Caldwell

Moonshot pad roaring back into action with SpaceX launch

Moonshot pad roaring back into action with SpaceX launch

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has established its presence in the booming launch vehicle market while also earning a reputation for its frugal yet reliable bulk carrier of satellites to earth orbit.

Launch time is 10:01 a.m. EST.

The launch pad, originally built for the 1960s-era Apollo moon program, has not been used since the final space shuttle blasted off in July 2011.

Elon Musk, CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp, speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club April 5, 2011 in Washington, DC. NASA, the US space agency, has hired SpaceX and Boeing ferry astronauts to the space station, breaking a Russian monopoly in effect since the shuttles were retired.

Saturday morning's planned launch will be SpaceX's first from Florida since a devastating rocket explosion at a neighbouring Cape Canaveral pad last summer.

"Very impressive!", Musk wrote on Twitter while replying to a question from a user.

For its Kennedy Space Center debut, SpaceX will launch a Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA, followed by several commercial satellite flights through the spring. That's 101 satellites that Elon Musk's SpaceX could have launched, hypothetically.

Wednesday's ISRO launch takes the total number of satellites (not including nano-satellites) that the PSLV series has put in space in the past 22 years at 113, of which as many as 74 belonged to foreign clients. NASA turned over the launch pad to SpaceX, a company that's using it for profit. This is because the vast majority of satellites now operating in space aren't designed for any kind of servicing or rendezvous, making the task especially hard.

But before SpaceX can fly astronaut crews, it has to satisfy NASA's concerns about whether its rockets are safe.

"Up in space, you lose bone", said Melissa Kacena, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery and biomedical engineering.

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