Photo Credit: SpaceX: CLICK photo for larger view and see below for all related links and information.

LAUNCH ALERT: (Delayed from March 30)
Monday, April 14, 2014 at 2058 UTC (1658 EDT) a SpaceX Falcon 9, version 1.1 rocket will be launching from Cape Canaveral, Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40 pronounced “SLICK-40”), Florida as part of CRS-3 (SpaceX-3 or SpX-3) to the International Space Station. This, the fifth dragon capsule (Dragon C-5) will be berthed to the recently vacated Harmony module on April 16, where it will deliver 4969 lbs. of supplies to the ISS to include legs for Robonaut 2 as well as the first non-space shuttle delivery of a complete Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) aka “Space Suit.” It is scheduled to be released after about a month when it will return 3578 lbs. back to Earth.
This will be the Falcon 9’s ninth flight “F9-9″ and the fourth for the new Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket. This will be Space-X’s 3rd of 12 contracted ISS resupply missions and the first time a Dragon capsule has flown on the new F9 v1.1 rocket.
BUT WAIT, THERES MORE!!! You may have noticed something odd on the bottom of this Falcon 9 rocket. Well there is something odd; in fact I’m not sure it’s ever been attempted before. This flight of the Falcon 9 has landing legs. That’s right; it has three retractable legs that, after the boost phase of the mission ends the three legs will release into position and engines will re-fire hopefully bringing the first stage down to the ocean in a soft water landing in the Atlantic. Future missions will take the next steps to reusability even further by attempting to land vertically back at Cape Canaveral, FL.


NOW FOR THE ROCKET: The Falcon 9R v1.1 rocket is a 2-stage partially reusable rocket with future ambitions of becoming fully reusable. The new version is 3.7 meters (12ft) in diameter and 68.4 meters (224.4 ft.) tall which is much taller than the Falcon 9 v1.0 or “Block 1” in order to house a longer fuel tank.
It is also fitted with upgraded and reconfigured Merlin family main engines replacing the 9 Merlin-1C with the more powerful Merlin-1D engines that will provide a thrust of nearly 600,200kg (1.5 million lb.) at sea level which equates to a significant payload capacity increase. Each Merlin-1D provides 147,000 lb. of thrust at sea level or about 55% more thrust than the original 1C engines. The new merlin 1-D engines are also in a circular “octaweb” configuration and are equipped with the capability to throttle between 70% and 100%. All in all the Falcon 9 v1.1 is able to loft 13,150kg (28,990lb) into low Earth orbit (LEO); 4,850kg (10,690lb) into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) or 2.9 tons to escape velocity.

DRAGON SPACECRAFT = The Dragon spacecraft is about 23.6 ft. (7.2 m) tall with trunk attached and 12 ft. (3.7 m) wide. It’s comprised of two main sections; the pressurized cargo area which can carry 388 cubic ft. of cargo as well as the unpressurized cargo area. The trunk (unpressurized area) carries 494 cubic ft. of cargo as well as the solar arrays.
MAIN COMPOSITE PAYLOAD FAIRING = the composite payload fairing is 13.1 meters (43ft) in length and 5.2 meter (17ft) in diameter.

SECOND STAGE = is powered by a single Merlin-1D Vacuum engine with aluminum-lithium alloy tanks fueled by liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene (LOX/RP-1). This stage can be restarted multiple times to place multiple payloads into desired orbits. For maximum reliability, the second stage has redundant igniter systems and has a burn time of 375 seconds.

INTERSTAGE = a composite structure that connects the first stage to the second stage and holds the release and separation system. Its al all pneumatic stage separation system for low shock, highly reliable separation that can be tested on the ground, unlike pyrotechnic systems used on most launch vehicles.

FIRST CORE/BOOST STAGE = is powered by nine (9) Merlin-1D engines with aluminum-lithium alloy tanks fueled by liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene (LOX/RP-1). The core stage has a burn time of 180 seconds and is gradually throttled. Its 9 new Merlin-1D engines have been reconfigured from the square “Tic-tac-toe” pattern to the circular “octaweb” configuration. The 9 engine system can sustain up to two engine shutdowns during flight and still successfully complete its mission.

WATCH THE LAUNCH LIVE AT: http://www.spacex.com/webcast/

NASA/SpaceX CRS-3 mission page: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/launch/index.html

NASA SpaceX CRS3 mission press kit: http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/SpaceXCRS-3_PressKit_FINAL.pdf

NASA/SpaceX CRS3 supplies inventory: http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/SpaceX3_Cargo_by_the_numbers.pdf

SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 page: http://www.spacex.com/falcon9

SpaceX Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpaceX

Elon Musk Twitter: https://twitter.com/elonmusk

Space Launch Report Falcon 9 data page: http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/falcon9.html

Space Launch Report Falcon 9 v1.1 data page: http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/falcon9v1-1.html#config

Spaceflight 101 standard Falcon 9 rocket page: http://www.spaceflight101.com/falcon-9-launch-vehicle-information.html

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