SpaceX is preparing a brand new Falcon 9 for a major pre-launch milestone at the company’s Western Range launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The static fire, a pivotal pre-launch test of the fully integrated Falcon 9, comes close on the heels of the company’s previous test at its Florida launch facility. The Iridium NEXT 3 launch is slated for Monday, 9 October 2017 at 05:37 PDT (12:37 UTC) from SLC-4E. Following Iridium NEXT 3, there are currently four remaining orbital launches off the Western Range this year.
At the center of today’s static fire – the second-to-last critical step for the Falcon 9 ahead of its early Monday morning launch – is Falcon 9 core B1041, a brand new Falcon 9 core stage.
For this particular first stage, B1041 completed construction in Hawthorne, CA, and was transported under security escort by road to McGregor, Texas, where it was erected on the S1 test stand and put through a series of tests, including a full duration hot fire.
It appears that this core was hot fire tested at McGregor in either very late August or very early September, with spotters on the ground noting the core, ...