Monday, March 15, 2010

Falcon 9 update: a successful hot fire of all 9 engines

Photo credit: SpaceX

“On Saturday, March 13, SpaceX successfully completed a test firing of the inaugural Falcon 9 launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 40 located at Cape Canaveral. Following a nominal terminal countdown, the launch sequencer commanded ignition of all 9 Merlin first stage engines for a period of 3.5 seconds.”

“This was the final step for the rocket and launch pad before launch itself."

The Falcon 9 is a two stage, liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene (RP-1) rocket that stands 180 ft (54.9m) in height and 12 ft (3.6m)in diameter with a LEO mass of 735,00 lb (333,400 kg). The rocket’s first stage is powered by nine Merlin engines with over 1.1 million lbs-f of thrust. The second stage is powered by a single Merlin engine. In 2008, NASA awarded SpaceX a $1.6 billion contract to resupply the International Space Station with cargo and an option to order additional missions for a total contract value of up to $3.1 billion.

The countdown for the inaugural Flacon 9 flight is scheduled for the 12th of March which by the way is the 49th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first flight. This first flight will carry a Dragon spacecraft qualification unit to LEO.

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