Press Release

SpaceX Conducts First Five Engine Firing of Falcon 9 Rocket

By SpaceRef Editor
June 3, 2008
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SpaceX Conducts First Five Engine Firing of Falcon 9 Rocket

McGregor TX – Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) conducted the first five-engine firing of its Falcon 9 medium to heavy lift rocket at its Texas Test Facility outside McGregor on Thursday, May 29. At full power the engines generated almost half a million pounds of force, and consumed 1,750 lbs of fuel and liquid oxygen per second. This five engine test again sets the record as the most powerful test yet on the towering 235-foot tall test stand.

The test of the five Merlin 1C engines, arranged in a cross pattern like the Saturn V moon rocket, is the last step before firing the full complement of nine engines, scheduled for this summer. With all engines operating, the Falcon 9 generates over one million pounds of thrust in vacuum – four times the maximum thrust of a 747 aircraft.

“This is the first time that we’ve added more than one engine at a time, and all phases of integration and testing went smoothly,” said Tom Mueller, Vice President of Propulsion for SpaceX. “As with previous tests, we saw no unexpected interactions between the engines, and are on schedule for adding four more engines.”

The first Falcon 9 will arrive at the SpaceX launch site at Cape Canaveral by the end of 2008. The next flight of SpaceX’s smaller Falcon 1 rocket is scheduled for late June or July of 2008.

Test firing of five Merlin 1C engines at the SpaceX test facility in McGregor Texas. Powered by liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene, the five Merlins produced nearly half a million pounds of thrust during the test. A total of nine Merlin 1C engines will power the Falcon 9 rocket.

About SpaceX

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 the internally developed Merlin engine, SpaceX is able to offer light, medium and heavy lift capabilities to deliver spacecraft into any inclination and altitude, from low-Earth orbit to geosynchronous orbit to planetary missions. SpaceX currently has fourteen missions on its manifest, and has been awarded indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts by 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.

SpaceRef staff editor.