SpaceX Reports Successful Engine Test Firing

SpaceX Reports Successful Engine Test Firing

SpaceX announced today that it successfully conducted a test firing of all nine engines of its Falcon 9 launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral, FL. The test had been delayed several times, which is quite common in launch vehicle development programs, but attracted significant attention for a variety of reasons. One is the debate over whether commercial companies like SpaceX can take over responsibility for launching people to low Earth orbit instead of NASA. Another is that the tests are leading up to the inaugural launch of the Falcon 9, which could take place at about the same time that President Obama is in Florida to talk about his vision for the space program.

In an emailed press statement that is not yet on SpaceX’s website, the company said:

“Today, SpaceX successfully completed a test firing of the inaugural Falcon 9 launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 40 located at Cape Canaveral. Following a nominal terminal countdown, the launch sequencer commanded ignition of all 9 Merlin first stage engines for a period of 3.5 seconds.

“Just prior to engine ignition, the pad water deluge system was activated providing acoustic suppression to keep vibration levels within acceptable limits. The test validated the launch pad propellant and pneumatic systems as well as the ground and flight control software that controls pad and launch vehicle configurations. The completion of a successful static fire is the latest milestone on the path to first flight of the Falcon 9 which will carry a Dragon spacecraft qualification unit to orbit.”

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