SpaceX completes static fire test, historic launch could come Saturday ars_ab.settitle(1041031)

Rodiano Bonacci
Febbraio 13, 2017

The company also plans to lift off Falcon Heavy rockets from the 39-A launch pad, a variant of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle that consists of two additional strap-on boosters capable of increasing the payload to at least 54.4 tons, compared to the 22.8 tons his predecessor is now able to push upward.

Smoke and fire on Sunday poured from a Kennedy Space Center launch pad for the first time since NASA's final shuttle mission blasted off more than five years ago.

The California rocket builder does not announce hot firings or provide details of pre-launch processing, but the rocket was easily seen on the pad and observers stood by all weekend awaiting signs of fueling and engine ignition.

The countdown rehearsal, which SpaceX performs before every mission, involves fueling the rocket with rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen and then briefly lighting its Merlin 1D engines.

SpaceX is set to launch its Dragon cargo spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday, February 18th for a NASA-contracted mission to the International Space Station that will deliver supplies, scientific instruments, and hardware to the crew of the orbiting laboratory.

NASA Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy launch site 20 year lease
SpaceX’s horizontal integration hangar at Launch Complex 39A

The rocket on Friday was rolled up the pad and lifted vertical. Some renovations to the site had to be completed to support flights of the company's rockets, as can be read on Space.com. If all goes well, the company will follow the Falcon 9/Dragon flight with launch of an EchoStar communications satellite around March 1.

But that pad was severely damaged when a Falcon 9 exploded on September 1 while it was being fueled for a test just like the one completed Sunday. That pad, now out of service, is currently being repaired with work expected to be complete later this spring, at earliest. It was also the last-ever mission of NASA's entire space shuttle program. Liftoff to the ISS is slated for 18 Feb 2017 on the CRS-10 resupply mission for NASA.

The Federal Aviation Administration must issue SpaceX a license to start launching from pad 39A at KSC.

Dragon will be loaded with more than 5500 pounds of equipment, gear, food, supplies and NASA's Stratospheric Aerosol Gas Experiment III (SAGE III) ozone mapping science payload. In this case, the test also marked a crucial validation of extensive modifications needed to convert the repurposed launch complex for use by SpaceX. In addition to the two in Florida - Pad 39A and the under fix LC-40 - and one in southern California, Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, the company is also in the early stages of building a new launch pad in Brownsville, Texas.

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