With a blast of smoke and flame, SpaceX fired up the first stage engines of a Falcon 9 rocket this afternoon during final pre-mission countdown practice in preparation for the company’s third NASA-contracted ISS resupply mission. At the end of the count, the 9 Merlin-1C engines roared to life for three seconds to test the readines off the launch vehicle, pad systems and support for launch, currently scheduled for 10:10 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral AFS.
(On Monday, Falcon 9 and Dragon underwent a successful static fire in prep for launch to the International Space Station, targeted for March 1 at 10:10AM EST. Engineers ran through all countdown processes as if it were launch day, ending with all 9 engines on Falcon 9 firing for nearly 2 seconds. Copyright (c) SpaceX)
In a statement several hours after the 1:30 p.m. static test, SpaceX said that the engines fired for the full planned duration, including 2 seconds at the full thrust of nearly 900,000 pounds. The rocket remained clamped to the launch mount during the test, with the strongback erector/umbilical retracted away as it will be on launch day.
Engineers will now thoroughly review data collected during the test to ensure that the vehicle is ready for flight Friday morning. Meanwhile, workers will lower the rocket and roll it back to the horizontal integration facility to complete final processing and loading of cargo into the Dragon spacecraft before moving back to the launch pad around 2 a.m. Friday morning for the final countdown and launch.
(Matthew Travis For ARES Institute / Zero-G News)
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