SpaceX has confirmed the completion of a static fire test of the Falcon 9 set to launch the company’s Crew Dragon Demo-1 mission. Despite the company confirming the test had been successful, many have pointed to a shorter than usual firing and a delay in announcing the success.
After several delays, SpaceX fired up the Demo-1 Falcon 9 rocket at the historic 39A launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center late yesterday. Following the test, SpaceX tweeted that it had been completed and that it planned on a February launch date for the Demo-1 mission.
Static fire test complete—targeting February launch from historic Launch Complex 39A for Crew Dragon’s first demonstration flight! pic.twitter.com/sJF24U3UOM
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 25, 2019
During the static fire test, the Falcon 9 is fixed to the launch pad and loaded with a full load of propellant as it would before a launch. All nine Merlin 1D+ engines are then throttled up to full power generating a combined 1.7 millions pounds of thrust. The test lasts just a few seconds following which all 9 engines shut down.
The average Falcon 9 static fire test can last anywhere from 3.5 seconds to 5 or 6 seconds. During yesterday’s test, the 9 Merlin engines were fired for approximately 3.5 seconds, the low end of the prescribed firing durations. On its own, a short burn would not indicate that anything was amiss. However, SpaceX traditionally tweets a confirmation of a successful static fire test shortly after its completion. Yesterday, however, the confirmation can several hours after it had been expected.
Despite the mild controversy, the static fire test appears to have been completed according to plan. Although no launch date has yet been confirmed, early reports have indicated it will likely be late February. This may, however, be delayed due to clashes with a vital ISS resupply mission.