To Mark Next Historic Flight, SpaceX Announces Release of Falcon 9 Rocket Model

SpaceX is working to launch its next Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station on Feb. 7. 2012. If all goes according to plan this could be a historic flight. Many space enthusiasts are also excited about the upcoming release of the Falcon 9/Dragon model. Photo Credit: SpaceX

Possibly more hotly anticipated than the launch of the next Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon spacecraft is the release of the Falcon 9 and Dragon model kit that is set to be released. NASA has agreed to allow Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to rendezvous their Dragon spacecraft with the International Space Station (ISS) in February of next year. This makes this model kit’s release very nicely timed.

With Christmas just a few days away, the commercial space firm has released numerous details about the model. This kit will do far more than just look good on one’s shelf – it is fully capable of flight as well (like the Estes rocket kits you had when you were a kid – only cooler).

SpaceX has made steady progress toward having this Falcon 9 rocket launch the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. Photo Credit: NASA/Jim Grossman

The kit will include molded nose and tail sections, along with full color stickers for the body and nose. This feature was apparently included so that space enthusiasts won’t have to worry about painting it. When completed, the model will stand approximately 23 inches (58 centimeters) high.

Unlike the real Falcon 9, this model will require stabilization control on the way up; therefore, it also includes flight fins which are transparent and removable (so as to not take away from accuracy when the model is put on display). Also, unlike the real article, the model will return to Earth under two parachutes – instead of three.

SpaceX launched two of its Falcon 9 rockets last year within a six-month time period. The second launch marked the first flight of the Dragon spacecraft, which orbited the Earth twice and safely returned to Earth. Up until this mission only nations and the European Space Agency had accomplished this feat. Photo Credit: Alan Walters/awaltersphoto.com

SpaceX has kept the likenesses of its launch vehicles and spacecraft somewhat to themselves. One can easily find either a model of the space shuttles (American and Russian) as well as any number of launch vehicles – not so with either the Dragon or the Falcon family of rockets.

With the successes of the first flight of the Falcon 9 rocket in June of 2010 and the subsequent launch of another Falcon 9 six months later – SpaceX has become a prominent player in the space flight arena. The second launch of the Falcon 9 rocket launched the first Dragon spacecraft into orbit under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract. This was a demonstration flight that saw a private company return their spacecraft safely to Earth – a feat previously completed by nations and the European Space Agency.

This Dragon spacecraft is currently at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Florida. It is being prepared for a planned February launch to the International Space Station. Note the grapple fixture just below the hatch - this will be used by the station's crew to latch onto the spacecraft and dock it to the ISS. Photo Credit: SpaceX

There is a lot of buzz in the aerospace community about the upcoming COTS 2/COTS 3 Demo mission. NASA has provided SpaceX with a target launch date of Feb. 7, 2012. SpaceX, by all accounts, is doing very well with accomplishing the necessary objectives before they can be ready for launch (in many of these the company is doing for the very first time).

Currently the model kits are in production and will be made available in the coming weeks on Amazon.com. If you are interested (or know a space fan that is) go to: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006GX14R8 ; once there add the model kit to your wish list – when the kits are ready to ship, you will receive an email notification.

[youtube_video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p6EruPdoXY[/youtube_video]

Video Courtesy Space Exploration Technologies

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