SpaceX Conducts Static Test Firing of Next Falcon 1 Rocket
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) successfully conducted a full launch dress rehearsal and hold down firing of the Falcon 1 Flight 3 vehicle on June 25, 2008 (Marshall Island Time) on Omelek Island, SpaceX’s launch site at the Kwajalein Atoll. This test is the final step before launch of the Falcon 1 rocket.
This marks the first launch pad firing of SpaceX’s new Merlin 1C regeneratively cooled engine, which operated at full power with only the hold-down system restraining the rocket from flight. In the coming weeks, SpaceX will conduct a thorough review of all data prior to the opening of the launch window for flight, which runs from late July through early September.
“We are definitely not tied to the clock for this launch, and we are checking and crosschecking every aspect of the vehicle and ground systems to ensure a successful mission,” said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. “Our primary concerns remain the safety and reliability of our vehicle, and the successful delivery of the Defense Department and NASA satellites to orbit.”
During launch, SpaceX will use the extensive range safety, tracking and telemetry services provided by the Reagan Test Site (RTS) at the United States Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) in the Central Pacific. RTS will be closed for the national Fourth of July holiday, and resumes operations on 24 July. The next launch window opens 29 July and runs through 6 August, followed by one from 29 August to 5 September.
The Falcon 1 will carry the Trailblazer satellite for the Jumpstart Program of the Department of Defense’s Operationally Responsive Space Office (ORS). Additional secondary payloads include an adapter system developed by the government of Malaysia that holds two small NASA satellites.
SpaceX will provide complete launch day coverage and a live webcast of the launch and ascent into orbit.
Details will be announced as the launch date approaches via the SpaceX.com website.
SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles intended to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of both manned and unmanned space transportation ultimately by a factor of ten. With its Falcon line of launch vehicles, powered by internally developed Merlin engines, SpaceX is able to offer light, medium and heavy lift capabilities to deliver spacecraft into any altitude and inclination, from low-Earth orbit to geosynchronous to planetary missions. SpaceX currently has 14 missions on its manifest plus indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts with NASA and the US Air Force.
As a winner of the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services competition (COTS), SpaceX is in a position to help fill the gap when the Space Shuttle retires in 2010. Under the existing contract, SpaceX will conduct three flights of its Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft for NASA, culminating in Dragon berthing with the International Space Station (ISS) and returning to Earth. NASA also has a contract option on Falcon 9 / Dragon to provide crew services to the ISS after Shuttle retirement.
Founded in 2002, the SpaceX team now numbers nearly 500, located mostly in Hawthorne, with four additional locations; SpaceX’s Texas Test Facility in McGregor, Texas, outside of Waco, offices in Washington DC, and launch facilities at Cape Canaveral, Florida and the Marshall Islands in the Central Pacific.
The first Falcon 9 will arrive at the SpaceX launch site at Cape Canaveral by the end of 2008.