Is the future here? Over the weekend, SpaceX rolled their Falcon 9 launch vehicle out to the launchpad at Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral. If all systems check out, SpaceX looks to do an engine test sometime this week, which should provide some dramatic rumbling and shaking here in Florida. The rocket measures 47 meters long (154 feet) and 4 meters (12 feet) wide, and for the upcoming test launch (date currently not set), the payload will be a dummy of the company’s Dragon capsule being developed to carry equipment to the International Space Station for NASA.
The word around Cape Canaveral is that the range has been reserved for March 8, but SpaceX won’t provide any specific potential launch dates; instead giving a range of sometime between March and May. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has said the Range date is “just a placeholder for the earliest possible countdown attempt.” In an article in Spaceflightnow.com, Musk said the launch likely won’t occur until April at the earliest.
SpaceX said that Falcon 9 is now undergoing a checkout of the critical flight connections including fuel, liquid oxygen, and gas pressure systems. Once all system interfaces are verified, the launch team will execute a full tanking test of both first and second stages (wet dress) followed by a brief ~3.5 static fire of the first stage. “SpaceX has not set specific dates for wet dress or static fire as schedule will be driven by the satisfactory completion of all test objectives and a thorough review of the data,” the company said in a press release.
Here’s a look at the launch complex 40.