Monday, March 10, 2014

SpaceX: All four landing legs now mounted on Falcon 9 rocket

All four landing legs now mounted on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket being processed inside hanger at Cape Canaveral, FL for Mar 16 launch. 

Credit: SpaceX/Elon Musk 

The historic blast off of the first SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket equipped with 'landing legs' and also carrying the Dragon cargo vessel is bound for the Space Station.

The launch is now slated for March 16, following a short and "successful" hot fire check test of the first stage engines on Saturday, March 8.

The brief two second ignition of all nine upgraded Merlin 1D engines powering the first stage of SpaceX's next generation, commercial Falcon 9 rocket at the end of a simulated countdown, is a key test.

The rocket engine milestone test is required to clear the way for next Sunday's planned night time lift off at 4:41 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SpaceX owner and entrepreneur, Ellon Musk, is shown here next to a model of the Dragon spacecraft.

 "Falcon 9 and Dragon conducted a successful static fire test in advance of next week's CRS-3 launch to station!" SpaceX announced today.

The primary goal of the unmanned SpaceX CRS-3 mission is to deliver over 5000 pounds of science experiments, gear and supplies loaded inside Dragon to the six person crew living and working aboard the International Space Station (ISS) flying in low Earth orbit under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.

"In this final major preflight test, Falcon 9's 9 first-stage engines were ignited for 2 seconds while the vehicle was held down to the pad," said SpaceX.

The static hot firing is a full up assessment of the rocket, engines, propellant loading and countdown procedures leading to a launch. The engines typically fire for a barely a few seconds.

SpaceX engineers will evaluate the engine firing to ensure all systems are ready for launch.

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