Falcon 9 rocket passes last major preflight test

November 1, 2014 – 12:02 pm

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral's Complex 40 launch pad. Credit: SpaceXGround crews plan to load the final cargo into SpaceX’s Dragon supply ship Saturday after the capsule’s Falcon 9 rocket booster briefly fired up on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral for a flight readiness check.

The Falcon 9 rocket ignited its nine Merlin 1D first stage engines at 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) Friday as hold-down clamps kept the the 208-foot-tall booster firmly on the ground at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad.

The engines throttled up to full power, then shut down a few seconds later. The prelaunch engine firing — called a static fire by SpaceX — is the company’s last major test before clearing the rocket for final countdown preparations.

Credit: SpaceX“I heard it was very successful — full-duration — and that clears the next coming days up to launch on Sunday morning, ” said Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president of mission assurance and launch chief engineer.

Fresh food and time-sensitive experiments will go into the capsule Saturday.

Liftoff is timed for Sunday at 10:21:12 a.m. EDT (1421:12 GMT), approximately the moment the Earth’s rotation carries Cape Canaveral into the path of the International Space Station’s orbit.

“It’s a one-second launch window to catch the ISS in its plane and make sure that we are in the right orbit under it, ” Koenigsmann said.

After flying northeast from Florida’s Space Coast, the Falcon 9’s second stage will deploy the logistics-laden Dragon spacecraft into orbit about 10 minutes later, beginning a two-day pursuit of the space station.

NASA and Microsoft engineers test the HoloLens on a zero-gravity research flight. Credit: NASAMore than 4, 000 pounds of provisions, experiments and spare parts will be packed inside the Dragon spacecraft for Sunday’s launch.

The materials include nearly 1.5 tons of care packages, food and provisions for the space station crew, a ton of spare parts and other items to maintain the orbiting research lab, and 1, 166 pounds of hardware for science experiments.

Astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Gennady Padalka will monitor the Dragon capsule’s approach Tuesday and extend the space station’s 58-foot robot arm to grab the spacecraft as it floats 30 feet beneath the complex. The arm will maneuver the Dragon to a berthing port on the space station’s Harmony module, where the crew will open hatches and begin unloading the supplies inside.

The mission is the first cargo flight to the space station since a Russian Progress resupply and refueling freighter spun out of control minutes after liftoff in April. Russian ground controllers were unable to stabilize the unmanned supply ship, which re-entered the atmosphere in May, destroying its contents.

Mike Suffredini, NASA’s space station program manager, said technicians added extra food and clothes to the cargo complement for Sunday’s mission, which is called SpaceX-7, or CRS-7.

Source: spaceflightnow.com

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