SpaceX Completes Hot Fire Test of Upgraded Falcon 9 Booster, Targeting Telstar Overnight Florida Launch July 22

SpaceX conducts successful static fire test of upgraded Block
5 Falcon 9 first stage at 5:00 p.m. EDT on July 18 at Space Launch Complex-40
on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, for Telstar 19 VANTAGE launch targeted for
July 22, 2018.  Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com 
Ken Kremer     SpaceUpClose.com 
  18 July 2018


MERRITT ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE/CANAVERAL
NATIONAL SEASHORE, FL – On a blistering hot day, SpaceX finally completed a successful
static hot fire test of their newly upgraded Falcon 9 booster late this
afternoon after drenching rain squalls and thunder claps inundated Cape
Canaveral and delayed the critical test – thereby paving the path for an overnight
Florida launch this weekend July 22 of the Telstar 19 comsat. 



Liftoff of the Telstar 19 VANTAGE
communications satellite is targeted for the middle-of-the-night at 1:50 a.m.
EDT (0550 GMT) Sunday, July 22. The four-hour long launch window extends until
5:50 a.m. EDT (0950 GMT). 



Telstar 19 VANTAGE is an advanced high throughput satellite (HTS)
built for Telesat, one of the world’s leading satellite operators. 



Check out our exclusive Space UpClose photos of the hot fire test.  




SpaceX conducts successful static fire test of upgraded Block
5 Falcon 9 first stage at 5:00 p.m. EDT on July 18 at Space Launch Complex-40
on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, for Telstar 19 VANTAGE launch targeted for
July 22, 2018.  Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com 

The
brief static hot fire engine test using only the 2nd manufactured Block
5 upgraded booster version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket occurred at 5:01 p.m. Wednesday,
July 18 – and involved the ignition of all nine Merlin 1D first stage engines
at Space launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.  










Furthermore when the short duration engine test took
place at 5:00 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT), it was a full hour beyond the time when the test
window officially supposedly closed at 4 p.m. ET.  According to sources, the test window officially
ran for 6 hours; from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 




SpaceX conducts successful static fire test of upgraded Block
5 Falcon 9 first stage at 5:00 p.m. EDT on July 18 at Space Launch Complex-40
on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, for Telstar 19 VANTAGE launch targeted for
July 22, 2018.  Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com


Nevertheless SpaceX and the U.S. Air Force which controls
the Eastern Range managed to find a way to extend the test window amidst some truly
grim and drastic weather which suddenly swept away the shiny sunshine state in
less then 30 minutes time this afternoon – and after no venting of the rocket
was visible all day which is a visible sign that the propellent loading is
underway.
Overall it was quite surprising that the static fire test
was conducted with scattered light rain still falling and distant thunder still
rattling.
SpaceX confirmed a good outcome for the test by twitter
soon after
“Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete—targeting early
morning launch on Sunday, July 22 of Telstar 19 VANTAGE from Pad 40 in Florida,”
SpaceX tweeted.
SpaceX conducts successful static fire test of upgraded Block
5 Falcon 9 first stage at 5:00 p.m. EDT on July 18 at Space Launch Complex-40
on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, for Telstar 19 VANTAGE launch targeted for
July 22, 2018.  Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The view for this weekends launch should be
spectacular and possibly can be enjoyed by families with children too since there
is no school the next day.
And if they don’t get up on purpose, they may
be awoken anyway by the rockets rumbling roar !
The July 22 night launch will be
only the 2nd one for the new Block 5 version.

The Block 5 Falcon 9 will be cheaper to produce and much
easier to turnaround with minimal maintenance, says SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. His
goal is to relaunch a recovered Block 5 a second time within 24 hours by
sometime next year. 








SpaceX will attempt to recover this new Block 5 version of
the Falcon 9 booster which replacing the older, now discontinued Block 4.
The last Block 4 launched in late June for NASA on the
Dragon CRS-15 resupply mission to the ISS.
Long exposure streak shot of
spectacularly beautiful and successful launch of SpaceX 
Falcon 9 rocket before dawn at 5:42 a.m. on June
29, 2018 from
Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape
Canaveral Air Force.  It is carrying the Dragon
CRS-15 cargo ship loaded with 3 tons of science for NASA
 to the ISS  – captured from roof of NASA’s iconic VAB at the
Kennedy Space Center. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com



The hold down
static fire test is routinely carried by SpaceX to ensure all is ready with the
rocket.
During the engine test all nine Merlin 1D first stage
engines were ignited for several seconds.
During Wednesday’s hold down static
fire test, the rocket’s first and second stages are fueled with liquid oxygen
and RP-1 propellants just like an actual launch, and a simulated countdown is
carried out to the point of a brief engine ignition. 
With the poor
weather conditions it was difficult to anything until the sudden moment of
ignition and the exhaust plume shooting out the flame trench to the north.
The hold
down engine test with the erected Falcon 9 rocket involved the ignition of all
nine Merlin 1D first stage engines generating some 1.7 million pounds of thrust
at pad 40 while the two stage rocket was restrained on the pad – minus the Telstar
19 payload to keep it safe in case of a mishap. 
This static fire test appeared to
last for about three seconds and generated a sudden and huge exhaust plume of
white smoke and steam rushing out of the ocean facing flame trench.
The plume wafted around in the wind and dissipated within 5
minutes.  It was somewhat surprising and
quite lucky that the stormy weather drifted away sufficiently for just enough
time to conduct the required test – nut after the nominal window ended and had
to be extended.
The rocket will next be lowered and
rolled back down the ramp
and returned to the pad 40 hanger to attach
the Telstar 19 spacecraft.
SpaceX Falcon 9 booster is raised vertical overnight July
18 at pad 40 to carry out planned static hot fire test on Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station, for Telstar 19 VANTAGE launch targeted for July 22, 2018 – in
distant view from Titusville.  Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA,
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK and more space and mission reports direct
from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and
Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human
spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com
–www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
………….
Ken’s upcoming outreach events:
Learn more about the upcoming upcoming/recent
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launch to ISS,  SES-12 comsat
launch, Falcon Heavy, TESS, GOES-S, Bangabandhu-1,
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Launch, SpaceX Dragon CRS-15 resupply launch to ISS, SpaceX Falcon Heavy &
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explore Mars, NH at Pluto and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn,
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Telstar 19 VANTAGE comsat
Pad 40 sits empty prior to erection of SpaceX Falcon 9 booster.
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com


Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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