SpaceX tests Falcon 9 rocket ahead of Inmarsat-5 F4 mission
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — SpaceX has performed its customary static fire test on its latest Falcon 9 rocket, which is slated to launch the Inmarsat-5 Flight 4 satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit during a 50-minute window opening at 7:20 p.m. EDT (23:20 GMT) May 15, 2017.
The hot-fire test took place at 12:45 p.m. EDT (16:45 GMT) May 11 at Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A). The three-second firing was later confirmed by SpaceX via its Twitter account.
Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete—targeting launch of Inmarsat-5 Flight 4 from Pad 39A on Monday, May 15. pic.twitter.com/D0iEXF42pI
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 11, 2017
The NewSpace company performs static fire tests to ensure all is well with the vehicle before proceeding with a launch several days later. It involves fully fueling the rocket and performing a countdown just like it would on launch day.
Once the countdown reached zero, the nine first stage Merlin 1D engines ignited briefly before an abort was automatically called, shutting the engines down. SpaceX will now go over the data to ensure everything was indeed working properly.
Monday’s launch will use an expendable version of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. As such, it will sport no legs or grid fins. The reason for this is because the Inmarsat satellite weighs more than 13,000 pounds (5,900 kilograms) and will require as much energy as the rocket can give to loft it into a geostationary transfer orbit.
Between now and the end of June, SpaceX is planning to launch as many as five Falcon 9 rockets. Assuming everything goes without delay, after Monday’s launch the company will start preparing for the CRS-11 Dragon mission, which is expected to occur on June 1, 2017, from LC-39A.
On June 15, 2017, the company will use a second flight-proven first stage to send BulgariaSat 1 into space, also from LC-39A. That mission will utilize the same Falcon 9 booster that sent the 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to orbit back in January 2017.
After that, the second Iridium NEXT flight is slated to occur on June 29, 2017, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Finally, also in late June, SpaceX hopes to send the Intelsat 35e communications satellite into space from LC-39A.
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a blog about the International Space Station, called Orbital Velocity.