SpaceX Delivers COTS Comm Unit to NASA for Atlantis Flight



Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces delivery of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Communication Unit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in preparation for launch on Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-129. The unit will be delivered by Atlantis to the International Space Station (ISS) and integrated in preparation for SpaceX’s future flights to the orbiting laboratory.

Developed by SpaceX, in collaboration with NASA, the unit allows for communication between the ISS, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, and ground-based mission control. The system also allows the ISS crew to monitor an approaching or departing capsule. As part of NASA’s COTS competition, SpaceX will conduct flights of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft, culminating in Dragon berthing with the ISS and then returning to Earth.

The unique public-private partnership created through the COTS program will allow SpaceX’s Dragon to serve as a replacement for cargo transport to the ISS when the Space Shuttle retires. Upon completion of the COTS requirements, SpaceX will begin to fulfill the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract, awarded by NASA in late 2008. The contract includes 12 cargo flights between 2010 and 2015 and represents a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg to be carried to the ISS. Dragon will deliver pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the ISS and return pressurized cargo back to Earth.

“SpaceX is pleased to have delivered the two-way communication system to the Cape in preparation for flight to the ISS,” said Gwynne Shotwell, President, SpaceX. “The unit had to pass NASA’s strict ISS safety standards and reviews, demonstrating our progress under the COTS program and laying the groundwork for future F9/Dragon flights to resupply cargo and possibly crew to the ISS when Shuttle retires.”

Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled for launch no earlier than November 12, 2009, from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A.