SpaceX planning for April 30 Dragon launch

SpaceX has reserved a launch date at the end of April for a key Dragon test flight to the ISS. “I’m happy to say we have a launch date scheduled on the range and a berthing date with the ISS,” SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell announced during a panel at the Satellite 2012 conference in Washington, DC. “The launch date is April 30th, and we hope to berth on May 3rd.” She added that the launch window on the 30th is “almost an instantaneous window” and that “we only have the opportunity every three days”, scheduling apparently dictated by the orbital mechanics of rendezvousing with the ISS. “We may have to have a couple of [launch] attempts, but we’re certainly looking forward to getting that flight off,” she said.

This mission, a combination of SpaceX’s second and third COTS demonstration missions, was previously scheduled for launch in February but delayed in order to perform additional tests, focused primarily on the Dragon’s software. “We’re going to launch when we’re ready, and when the vehicle is ready, because we want very much for this mission to be a success,” SpaceX’s Garrett Reisman, a former astronaut, said at last month’s FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference, also in Washington.

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