Rocket test-fired for launch of secretive U.S. authorities payload – Spaceflight Now


The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket test-fired its 9 Merlin 1D engines at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) Saturday in a uncommon nighttime static fireplace take a look at. Credit: William Harwood/CBS News

SpaceX moved nearer to its subsequent launch with a profitable hold-down engine firing Saturday on the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, crusing by a readiness test for a deliberate liftoff Wednesday with a clandestine U.S. authorities payload named Zuma.

Throttling as much as full energy for just a few seconds, the Merlin 1D engines ignited at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) Saturday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The static fireplace take a look at clears the best way for closing launch preparations forward of the deployment of a clandestine U.S. authorities payload named Zuma in orbit Wednesday.

It can be SpaceX’s 17th launch of the 12 months, and the 45th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket because the industrial booster debuted in 2010.

SpaceX’s launch workforce loaded super-chilled, densified kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants into the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket Saturday night, then ignited the booster’s 9 important engines for a number of seconds whereas hold-down restraints preserve the car on the bottom.

A plume of engine exhaust erupted from the north facet of the launch pad, and SpaceX confirmed an excellent hold-down firing on Twitter a couple of minutes later.

The prelaunch static fireplace take a look at is a customary step in all SpaceX launch campaigns.

The subsequent step to arrange for Wednesday’s launch would be the rollback of the Falcon 9 to SpaceX’s hangar at pad 39A to fulfill Zuma, a mysterious payload for the U.S. authorities. Little is thought in regards to the mission, together with which authorities company is accountable for it. Northrop Grumman mentioned final month it organized for the payload’s launch with SpaceX on behalf of the federal government.

Liftoff with Zuma is scheduled throughout a two-hour window Wednesday that opens at eight p.m. EST (0100 GMT Thursday).

The Falcon 9’s first stage booster will return to Landing Zone-1 at Cape Canaveral lower than 10 minutes after liftoff, a maneuver that requires ample leftover gasoline within the rocket after sending its payload towards orbit. The plan for a touchdown at Cape Canaveral, and never on an offshore ship, suggests the Zuma payload is probably going heading for a comparatively low-altitude orbit.

Saturday’s hotfire take a look at got here lower than two weeks after SpaceX’s final launch from pad 39A on Oct. 30.

SpaceX plans to launch the next Falcon 9 flight from neighboring pad 40 in December, returning that launch advanced to service for the primary time because it was broken in a rocket explosion final 12 months.

Activity at pad 39A will deal with making ready for the primary take a look at flight of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, which might happen earlier than the top of the 12 months.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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