Pre-flight static fire test performed on flight-proven Falcon 9
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX performed its customary pre-flight static fire test on the Falcon 9 rocket intended to send the SES-10 satellite to space. The mid-afternoon evaluation took place at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A.
The first stage of this booster is the same one that helped propel the CRS-8 Dragon capsule toward the International Space Station in April 2016. During that flight, after it separated from the upper stage, it performed a series of burns that brought it down to the deck of SpaceX’s Automated Spaceport Drone Ship called Of Course I Still Love You. It was the first orbital-class booster to successfully land on an ocean-going platform and the second overall that the company recovered.
The 2 p.m. EDT (18:00 GMT) March 27, 2017, static fire test was significant because it was the final step before this booster is re-flown. Pending a final evaluation of the results, SpaceX expects to fly this rocket with SES-10 at the opening of a 2.5-hour launch window at 6 p.m. EDT (22:00 GMT) March 30, 2017.
Static fire test complete. Targeting Thursday, March 30 for Falcon 9 launch of SES-10. pic.twitter.com/0tZ7u6gngI
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 27, 2017
SpaceX expects to perform a number of milestone missions in 2017, including launching the first unpiloted test flight of its Crew Dragon capsule. In addition to re-flying multiple Falcon 9 first stages this year, it also plans to fly the three-core Falcon Heavy from LC-39A.
The maiden flight of the Falcon Heavy will only occur once nearby Space Launch Complex 40 is repaired. It was damaged on Sept. 1, 2016, when a Falcon 9 exploded while performing a pre-flight test.
Derek Richardson is a student studying mass media with an emphasis in contemporary journalism at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. He is currently the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also writes a blog, called Orbital Velocity, about the space station. His passion for space ignited when he watched space shuttle Discovery leap to space on Oct. 29, 1998. He saw his first in-person launch on July 8, 2011 when the space shuttle launched for the final time. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized that his true calling was communicating to others about space exploration and spreading that passion.