Static fire test conducted ahead of SpaceX CRS-9 launch
SpaceX‘s usual precursor to launch—the static fire test—has been completed for the upcoming CRS-9 Dragon mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The test clears the way for the company to fly their Falcon 9 early Monday morning.
The three-second test occurred on Saturday morning, July 16, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40. The firing is designed to evaluate the functionality of all the launch pad’s systems. It involves everything from loading the rocket with fuel, a full countdown, and a testing of the Niagara sound suppression system. The test ended with a planned abort three seconds after engine ignition.
Since the test, the booster has been drained of fuel and safed. It will be lowered back to horizontal later today before being transported back to the Horizontal Integration Hangar for time-sensitive cargo to be added to the Dragon capsule.
SpaceX will evaluate the test and officially give the go-ahead to launch during the Launch Readiness Review. Liftoff is scheduled for 12:45 a.m. EDT (04:45 GMT) July 18. The rocket will loft the ninth Dragon to the space station. Weather is expected to be 90 percent “GO” with the only concerns being a violation of the cumulus cloud rule and flight through precipitation.
In addition to food, supplies, and other equipment, the spacecraft will also take with it a new docking adapter for the orbiting outpost—International Docking Adapter-2 (IDA-2). The first adapter, IDA-1, was lost during the CRS-7 flight a year ago in June 2015. As such, a third IDA has been ordered and will launch on another Dragon sometime in 2017. Both IDA-2 and IDA-3 will allow future commercial crew spacecraft to dock with the orbiting outpost.
Assuming an on-time liftoff, Dragon will arrive at the outpost on Wednesday, July 20, to be berthed by the robotic Canadarm2. Later in July, the onboard crew will use the arm to grab IDA-2 out of the trunk and move it to Pressurized Mating Adapter 2, located on the forward end of Harmony. Two members of the Expedition 48 crew will then go on a spacewalk to install it.
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.