SpaceX Fires Up Falcon 9-R in a Long Duration Test

by Nancy Atkinson on June 11, 2013

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Last week, SpaceX fired up a new version of the Falcon 9 for a short 10-second test fire. Now, they’ve completed a long-duration fire, lasting 112 seconds. The test was of the first stage of the F9-R, an advanced prototype for the world’s first reusable rocket. The test took place at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. SpaceX noted that unlike airplanes, a rocket’s thrust increases with altitude, and the F9-R generates just over a million pounds of thrust at sea level (“enough to lift skyscraper,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter) but gets up to 1.5 million pounds of thrust in the vacuum of space.

Falcon 9-R 112-second test fire. Via SpaceX/YouTube.

Falcon 9-R 112-second test fire. Via SpaceX/YouTube.


The rocket engines used on the test is the same as what’s used on the Grasshopper, which is the 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle that SpaceX has designed to test the technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact. While the Grasshopper uses just one Merlin 1D engine, the Falcon 9-R uses nine.

SpaceX hasn’t posted any details about the 9-R on their website, but they have said the Merlin 1-D’s 150:1 thrust-to-weight ratio would be the highest ever achieved for a rocket engine.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Aqua4U June 11, 2013 at 8:05 PM

“…the Merlin 1-D’s 150:1 thrust-to-weight ratio would be highest ever achieved by a rocket engine…” Yah gotta like THAT! You GO Space-X!

On a side note… I wonder if…. one were to inject that kind of energy into a tornado’s column at just the right time, angle and location… what would happen? Quench the beast?

MTCZ June 11, 2013 at 5:52 PM
gopher652003 June 12, 2013 at 2:37 PM

The forces that generate tornadoes are not small. Attempting to dissipate them with large shockwaves (which is what you’d be trying to do with either a rocket engine or directional explosives (both conventional and nuclear)) would end up doing more damage than just letting the tornado be. You’d need to loose a tremendous amount of kinetic energy to affect a tornado in any way.

Torbjörn Larsson June 11, 2013 at 8:25 PM

They have a test stand instead of a test “lie down”. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that. (O´ o O´)

gopher652003 June 12, 2013 at 11:22 PM

I can’t tell if that was a reference to something or a serious comment.

But assuming it was a serious comment, what is a “lie down”, and why would it be better?

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