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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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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Sunday November 11 2018, @05:48AM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 11 2018, @05:48AM (#760584) Journal

    There's a one in twenty chance we're gonna set James Web up the bomb.

    Not a problem really. Most of the JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) money has already been spent. If it blows up on launch or deployment, they can just develop another from scratch or if pork funding is limited, one from the spare parts left over from the JWST.

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