SpaceX test-fires previously-flown rocket for May 31 launch – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX test-fires previously-flown rocket for May 31 launch – Spaceflight Now

A cloud of exhaust rises from SpaceX’s launch pad at Cape Canaveral after Thursday evening’s engine firing. Credit: Spaceflight Now

The 9 Merlin primary engines on the base of a recycled Falcon 9 rocket booster ignited Thursday evening for a number of seconds throughout a pre-flight test-firing on a Cape Canaveral launch pad, clearing a serious hurdle forward of a scheduled May 31 liftoff with a high-power communications satellite tv for pc for SES.

The primary engines fired at 9:30 p.m. EDT Thursday (0130 GMT Friday) as clamps held the Falcon 9 rocket firmly on the bottom at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad.

SpaceX confirmed a passable static hearth take a look at, a customary step in all the firm’s launch campaigns, in a tweet revealed a couple of minutes later.

Thursday evening’s hold-down firing clears the way in which for floor crews to decrease the rocket from its launch mount and roll it again to a close-by hangar, the place employees will join it to the SES 12 communications satellite tv for pc set to experience it towards a perch greater than 22,000 miles (practically 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.

The SES 12 satellite tv for pc, nestled contained in the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing, might be mated to the launcher’s higher stage. The rocket might be returned to pad 40 subsequent week forward of a 58-minute launch window opening at 12:29 a.m. EDT (0429 GMT) subsequent Thursday, May 31.

The middle-of-the-night launch will mark SpaceX’s 11th mission of the yr, and the 13th time the corporate has flown a reused first stage booster since Falcon 9 flights with recycled rockets started in March 2017.

The first stage assigned to SES 12’s launch first flew final September with the U.S. Air Force’s robotic X-37B spaceplane, which stays in orbit on a prime secret mission. The booster is predicated on a discontinued model of the Falcon 9 rocket, often called the Block four, and SpaceX is just not anticipated to try to get better the car.

The SES 12 satellite tv for pc earlier than launch. Credit: Airbus Defense and Space

Driven by plasma thrusters as a substitute of standard rocket engines, the SES 12 satellite tv for pc was manufactured by Airbus Defense and Space and assembled in Toulouse, France, earlier than its cargo to Cape Canaveral final month.

SES 12 might be one of many largest satellites in a fleet of greater than 50 spacecraft owned by SES, a Luxembourg-based firm which is likely one of the world’s greatest industrial satellite tv for pc operators. Once in place in geostationary orbit at 95 levels east longitude, SES 12 will present HD and Ultra HD tv broadcast companies, information relay capability, and broadband and mobile connectivity throughout greater than 20 international locations within the Asia-Pacific area.

“SES-12 was built to meet the dynamic needs of our customers across the Asia-Pacific region, and to empower them to capture massive growth opportunities in their markets,” stated Martin Halliwell, chief know-how officer at SES. “When co-located with SES-8, it will provide incremental high performance capacity and offer greater reliability and flexibility to our video and data customers.”

The spacecraft weighs practically 12,000 kilos — about 5,400 kilograms — with its load of xenon propellant, considerably lighter than a satellite tv for pc of comparable functionality with standard hydrazine gas.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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