SpaceX expands McGregor test facility
We recently reported on a rather loud engine test by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) at its McGregor, TX, facility. The test was a full-up test of a Falcon 9 first stage and its nine Merlin 1D engines. Atmospheric conditions may have contributed to the noise carrying farther than usual – as far as Rogers, some forty miles away. It now appears that SpaceX is taking action to limit the noise coming out of the facility.
Historically, SpaceX has performed engine testing on an above-ground tripod that sits atop a former World War II bomb factory. However, recent aerial photos reflect the construction of a new “test stand” with a below-ground-level flame trench reminiscent of Soviet/Russian launch pads.
It’s doubtful if the new stand is being built solely for sound suppression, but its recessed construction, along with the direction of the trench, should significantly reduce noise levels in McGregor.
Speculation is that the stand is needed for the testing of the company’s new three core, 27 engine, Falcon Heavy rocket.
Also of note, and revealed in the same batch of photographs, are new structures on and around the “Grasshopper” launch/landing pad. These structures could be needed for testing of the new human-rated version of the company’s Dragon capsule.
Stay tuned to SpaceFlight Insider for continuing updates on SpaceX and the construction/testing taking place at its McGregor, TX, facility.
Scott earned both a Bachelor's Degree in public administration, and a law degree, from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He currently practices law in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood. Scott first remembers visiting Marshall Space Flight Center in 1978 to get an up-close look at the first orbiter, Enterprise, which had been transported to Huntsville for dynamic testing. More recently, in 2006, he participated in an effort at the United States Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) to restore the long-neglected Skylab 1-G Trainer. This led to a volunteer position, with the USSRC curator, where he worked for several years maintaining exhibits and archival material, including flown space hardware. Scott attended the STS - 110, 116 and 135 shuttle launches, along with Ares I-X, Atlas V MSL and Delta IV NROL-15 launches. More recently, he covered the Atlas V SBIRS GEO-2 and MAVEN launches, along with the Antares ORB-1, SpaceX CRS-3, and Orion EFT-1 launches.