Following the successful completion of the Static Fire test on their Falcon 9 v1.1 at Cape Canaveral on Saturday, SpaceX was preparing for a January 3 launch of the Thaicom-6 satellite. However, due to an issue with the Falcon 9’s fairing, the launch has been slightly delayed to No Earlier Than (NET) target of January 6.
SpaceX Static Fire – UPDATED:
SpaceX were likely to be the first orbital mission of 2014. However, based on the interim slip of the launch date, that honor may now go to the realigned ISRO launch of their GSLV carrying the GSAT-14 satellite.
This launch will be the third flight of the upgraded Falcon 9 – and her second from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex -40 (SLC-40) – following on from the successful launch with the SES-8 spacecraft.
Otherwise known as a Hot Fire test, the SpaceX team successfully tasked their Falcon 9 vehicle and launch pad systems through a full countdown scenario on Saturday, ultimately resulting in a short firing of the rocket’s nine Merlin 1D engines.
Per the primary goals of a Hot Fire test, the effort relates to ensuring that the pad’s fueling systems – and the launch vehicle – function properly in a fully operational environment, with numerous requirements to be successfully proven via such a test, such as the engine ignition and shut down commands, which have to operate as designed, and that the Merlin 1D engines perform properly during start-up.
Tasks also include a successful full propellant loading sequence, launch countdown operations, engine ignition operations and testing of the pad’s high volume water deluge system.
With the test providing a dress rehearsal for the actual launch, controllers would have began the test with polling to allow for the loading of Falcon 9’s RP-1 propellant with liquid oxygen oxidizer two hours and thirty five minutes before T-0.
This would have likely been followed with fuel and thrust vector control bleeding on the second stage, performed at T-1 hour.
At T-13 minutes, a final flight readiness poll would have been conducted, which would then be followed by the final hold point at T-11 minutes.
Per the countdown procedures, the tasks would have entered the terminal count ten minutes before ignition, followed by the launch vehicle being transferred to internal power at four minutes and forty six seconds before T-0.
The flight termination system, used to destroy the rocket in the event of a problem during an actual launch, would have been armed three minutes and eleven seconds before launch, and seven seconds later oxidizer topping ended.
Pressurization of the propellant tanks would have been one of the final major milestones ahead of ignition for a short burst to validate the condition of the Merlin 1D engine set.
The SpaceX team are now in the process of checking all the data parameters collated during the test, although SpaceX note their initial findings point to a good test.
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