Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) last Thursday announced the completion of qualification and acceptance testing of all primary structures for the Falcon I launch vehicle.
SpaceX has now successfully tested every major structural subsystem of Falcon I including the gimbal, thrust frame, first stage tank assembly, interstage, second stage tank assembly, avionics bay, payload adaptor and fairing.
Stage and fairing separation systems have also been successfully tested for flight. The first stage, which is designed to be reusable, was taken through over 150 pressure cycles without any sign of fatigue.
"We recognize that nothing is more important to our customers than reliability. Failure is never low cost," said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX.
"I hope that those who have followed our progress will note that we have been meticulous and rigorous in our testing, leaving no stone unturned. By combining an exhaustive test regime with a simple, minimal failure modes design, Falcon I will deliver reliable, low cost access to space for small satellites."
The Falcon I first stage engine, Merlin and second stage engine, Kestrel will begin acceptance testing within the next few weeks at the SpaceX 300 acre testing facility in McGregor, Texas.
Following that, Falcon I will be shipped to its launch site, SLC 3W at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in late April for a system test firing.
The maiden flight of Falcon I carrying TacSat-1 is scheduled to follow the launch of the last Titan IV from SLC 4 at Vandenberg AirForce Base. Assuming an on time departure of the classified Titan IV mission, SpaceX expects a launch window in late summer.
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