The Falcon 9 rocket’s previously-flown first stage fired its engines at pad 40 Wednesday. Credit: Steven Young/Spaceflight Now
SpaceX ignited a reused Falcon 9 first stage booster at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad Wednesday ahead of a planned space station resupply launch Dec. 12, a major step in restoring the repaired facility to service after a catastrophic explosion interrupted operations there last year.
Nine Merlin 1D engines on the Falcon 9’s first stage ignited at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) Wednesday, sending a plume of exhaust out of the flame trench at pad 40. It was the first time a rocket has fired at pad 40, a former Titan rocket launch facility now operated by SpaceX, since a rocket exploded during fueling before a pre-flight static fire test Sept. 1, 2016.
SpaceX confirmed the completion of the customary pre-launch static fire test on Twitter.
The Falcon 9 will be returned to SpaceX’s hangar at pad 40 for attachment of a Dragon cargo capsule loaded with several tons of supplies and experiments heading to the International Space Station.
The fully-assembled launcher will return to pad 40 next week for liftoff, which is currently targeted for Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 11:46 ...