SpaceX Completes Successful Falcon 9 Static Fire Test, Targets Starlink 1 Nighttime Launch May 15

SpaceX conducts successful nighttime
static fire test of Falcon 9 first stage engines at approximately 10:15 p.m.
EDT on May 13 with exhaust spewing out left from the flame trench at Space
Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, for Starlink-1 mission
targeted for launch May 15, 2019 at 1030 p.m. EDT
.  Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com 
Ken
Kremer —
SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM
– 13 May 2019


TITUSVILLE,
FL- SpaceX completed a late night static fire test of their Falcon 9 rocket Monday,
May 13 on Cape Canaveral during a brief break from day long rains and is now
targeting Wednesday evening May 15 for launch of the first batch of Starlink broadband
satellites to LEO – manufactured by SpaceX as well.  



The brief
hold down hotfire test of the SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage rocket and engines raised vertical took place
this evening at approximately 10:15 p.m. EDT on Space Launch Complex-40
(SLC-40) on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.



Enjoy
our photos of the test witnessed by Space UpClose from across the Indian River
in Titusville, FL.



Liftoff
of the Starlink 1 mission is targeted for 10:30 p.m. EST Wednesday, May 15
(0230 GMT Thursday)
from Space Launch
Complex-40 (SLC-40) on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.



The 90-minute
launch window extends to midnight 12 a.m. and the weather looks promising at
80% favorable.  



“Starlink is a
next-generation satellite network capable of connecting the globe, especially
reaching those who are not yet connected, with reliable and affordable
broadband internet services,” says SpaceX.
BOOSTER RAISED- SpaceX technicians rolled out and raised
the Falcon 9 rocket vertical late Wednesday morning, May 13 in order to conduct
successful nighttime static fire test of first stage engines at approximately 10:15
p.m. EDT May 13 at Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,
FL, for Starlink-1 mission targeted for launch May 15, 2019 at 10:30 p.m. EDT.  Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Viewing
was extremely difficult being at night and was barely visible with significant residual
haze, limited pad illumination and drenching rainstorms and thundershowers which
inundated the Florida Space Coast region all day and into the evening –
including during tonight’s test.  



The Falcon
9 rocket was only rolled out and raised at pad 40 around lunchtime Monday during
a brief break in the rain. It had not been raised by 10 a.m. as I observed first
hand from a distance of more than 12 miles.



The
test was conducted on the entire Falcon 9 rocket stack including the first
batch of 60 SpaceX-built Starlink satellites housed inside the payload fairing
bolted on top of the vehicle.



That’s
a stark contrast to virtually all SpaceX static fire tests where its conducted
minus the expensive payload to keep it safe in case of an explosion like happened
with the AMOS-6 payload back in 2016. 



However
by carrying out the hotfire test with the payload attached, the team can turn around
the rocket more quickly for flight and enable the launch in two days time or
less – as engineers evaluate and verify the rockets systems. 



Confirmation
of a good test came about an hour later from SpaceX.



“Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete—targeting May 15
for launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Pad 40 in Florida,” SpaceX tweeted late Monday
evening. 

SpaceX conducts successful nighttime static fire test of Falcon
9 first stage engines at approximately 10:15 p.m. EDT on May 13 with exhaust spewing
out left from the flame trench at Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station, FL, for Starlink-1 mission targeted for launch May 15, 2019 at
10:30 p.m. EDT.  Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com 

In the
minutes leading up to the test I observed vigorous venting around 9:57 p.m. at
the T Minus 20 minute mark and additional periods of venting in the final few
minutes. 



The hold down
static fire test is routinely carried by SpaceX engineers to ensure all is
ready with the rocket.



During the engine test all nine Merlin 1D first stage
engines are briefly ignited for several seconds.







The two stage Falcon 9 rocket which stands 229 feet
(70 meters) tall. 



During Monday night’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
was carried out to the point of a brief engine ignition lasting around 3
seconds or so.  



With the dark
nighttime and hazy pad conditions I was barely able to observe the exhaust
plume emitted from the Falcon 9 first stage in the moments
after ignition.  I did not hear the
rockets engines ruble several seconds later as the vapor cloud dissipated.   



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 – including the
Starlink-1 payload. 

1st 60 SpaceX Starlink satellites loaded inside payload
fairing for launch on Falcon 9 rocket on Starlink-1 mission targeted for launch
May 15, 2019 at 10:30 p.m. EDT.  Credit: SpaceX
SpaceX CEO and billionaire founder Elon Musk had
announced the hotfire test target of Monday May 13 and launch target of Wed May
15 last week.



He also confirmed the payload fairing was loaded to the
gills with the first 60 Starlink satellites by releasing a photo – comparing that
to the relatively empty fairing holding his Red Tesla from the maiden Falcon
Heavy launch inside the same sized fairing. 



“First
60 @SpaceX
Starlink satellites loaded into Falcon fairing. Tight fit,” SpaceX CEO Elon
Musk tweeted May 11. 



Musk also confirmed these are
production design satellites – unlike the demonstration unit “TinTin” satellites
as were launched by SpaceX previously last year. 



“More details on day of launch,
currently tracking to Wednesday,” Musk elaborated



These are production design, unlike our earlier Tintin
demo sats
.”


Nevertheless they are still
experimental units with much to learn and likely improve upon in future
manufacturing models. 



“Much
will likely go wrong on 1st mission. Also, 6 more launches of 60 sats needed
for minor coverage, 12 for moderate.



Overall
the Starlink constellation of low earth orbiting broadband satellites will
number in the thousands.

You can watch the launch on a SpaceX dedicated
webcast that starts about 15 minutes
prior to the opening of the nominal
launch window:

Currently the weather outlook for Wednesday evening
is rather favorable –
currently forecast as 80% GO !!


Watch for Ken’s continuing
onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman
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



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

Ken’s upcoming outreach events:


May 14-16: Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville,
FL, evenings.  Learn more about the upcoming
/recent NASA
2024 Moon landing goal, SpaceX Starlink-1,
SpaceX Falcon 9/CRS-17 launch to ISS, Falcon Heavy, SpaceX Demo-1
launch/test failure, SpaceX Beresheet
launch, NASA missions, ULA Atlas & Delta launches, Northrop Grumman Antares,
SpySats and more

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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