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posted by martyb on Saturday November 10 2018, @07:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the things-are-looking-up dept.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket Certified to Launch NASA's Most Precious Science Missions

SpaceX's workhorse Falcon 9 rocket can now launch NASA's most expensive and highest-priority science missions. NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP) has certified the two-stage Falcon 9 as a "Category 3" rocket, SpaceX representatives announced Thursday (Nov. 8).

[...] The LSP certification ladder only goes up to Category 3, which is reserved for the most dependable launchers. These rockets are expected to have a demonstrated reliability of 90 to 95 percent, according to LSP officials. For comparison, Category 2 vehicles — the level attained by the Falcon 9 in 2015 — are expected to ace their missions 80 to 90 percent of the time.

Only Category 3 rockets can launch the priciest, most important, most complex NASA missions — projects like the Hubble Space Telescope, the Mars rover Curiosity and the James Webb Space Telescope. (Hubble launched aboard the space shuttle Discovery in April of 1990, Curiosity flew atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in November of 2011 and Webb will ride an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket in March 2021.)

Also at NASASpaceflight.

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