Commercial Space

Successful HotFire Test Sets SpaceX on Course for Historic Relaunch of 1st ‘Flight-Proven’ Rocket

SpaceX conducts successful static hot fire test of 1st previously flown Falcon 9 booster atop Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on 27 Mar. 2017 as seen from Space View Park, Titusville, FL. History making launch of first recycled rocket is slated for 30 March 2017 with SES-10 telecommunications comsat. Credit: Ken Kremer/Kenkremer.com

SPACE VIEW PARK/KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – This afternoons (Mar. 27) successful hotfire test of a recycled Falcon 9 booster at the Kennedy Space Center sets SpaceX on course for a rendezvous with history involving the first ever relaunch of a ‘Flight-Proven’ rocket later this week.

The milestone mission to refly the first ever ‘used rocket’ is slated for lift off on Thursday, March 30, at 6 p.m. EDT from seaside Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying the SES-10 telecommunications payload.

“Static fire test complete,” SpaceX confirmed via social media.

“Targeting Thursday, March 30 for Falcon 9 launch of SES-10.”

SES-10 is to be the first satellite launching on a SpaceX flight-proven rocket, gushes telecommunications giant SES.

The flight proven SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will deliver SES-10 to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).

The Falcon 9 booster to be recycled was initially launched in April 2016 for NASA on the SpaceX Dragon CRS-8 resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under contract for the space agency.

The Falcon 9 first stage was recovered about 8 and a half minutes after liftoff via a propulsive soft landing on an ocean going droneship in the Atlantic Ocean some 400 miles (600 km) off the US East coast.

The brief engine test lasting approximately three seconds took place at 2 p.m. today, Monday March 27, with the sudden eruption of smoke and ash rushing into the air over historic pad 39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center during a picture perfect sunny afternoon – as I witnessed from Space View Park in Titusville, FL.

During today’s static fire test, the rocket’s first and second stages are fueled with liquid oxygen and RP-1 propellants like an actual launch, and a simulated countdown is carried out to the point of a brief engine ignition.

The hold down engine test with the erected rocket involved the ignition of all nine Merlin 1D first stage engines generating some 1.7 million pounds of thrust at pad 39A while the two stage rocket was restrained on the pad.

This is only the third Falcon 9 static fire test ever conducted on Pad 39A.

Pad 39A has been repurposed by SpaceX from its days as a NASA shuttle launch pad.

Watch this video of the March 27 static fire test from colleague Jeff Seibert:

Video Caption: SpaceX Falcon 9 hot fire test on March 27, 2017 for SES-10 launch on March 30 on KSC Pad 39A. Credit: Jeff Seibert

Space View Park is a great place to watch rocket launches from as it offers an unobstructed view across the inland river to the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch pads dotting the Florida Space Coast.

SpaceX, founded by billionaire and CEO Elon Musk, inked a deal in August 2016 with telecommunications giant SES, to refly a ‘Flight-Proven’ Falcon 9 booster.

Luxembourg-based SES and Hawthrone, CA-based SpaceX jointly announced the agreement to “launch SES-10 on a flight-proven Falcon 9 orbital rocket booster.”

Exactly how much money SES will save by utilizing a recycled rocket is not known. But SpaceX officials have been quoted as saying the savings could be between 10 to 30 percent.

This critical engine test opens the door to what will be only the third blastoff of the SpaceX commercial Falcon 9 rocket from seaside Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

So SpaceX is definitely picking up the pace of launch operations as this blastoff comes barely 2 weeks after the prior launch on March 16 with EchoStar XXIII.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launches the EchoStar 23 telecomsat from historic Launch Complex 39A with countdown clock in foreground at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center as display shows liftoff progress to geosynchronous orbit after post midnight blastoff on March 16 at 2:oo a.m. EDT. Credit: Ken Kremer/Kenkremer.com

Liftoff of the Falcon 9 carrying the SES-10 telecommunications satellite is now slated for 6 p.m. EDT at the opening of the launch window

The two and a half hour launch window closes at 8:30 p.m. EDT.

SES-10 will replace AMC-3 and AMC-4 to provide enhanced coverage and significant capacity expansion over Latin America, says SES.

“The satellite will be positioned at 67 degrees West, pursuant to an agreement with the Andean Community (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru), and will be used for the Simón Bolivar 2 satellite network.”

SES-10 satellite mission artwork. Credit: SES

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

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Learn more about SpaceX SES-10, EchoStar 23 and CRS-10 launches to ISS, ULA SBIRS GEO 3 launch, GOES-R launch, Heroes and Legends at KSCVC, OSIRIS-REx, InSight Mars lander, Juno at Jupiter, SpaceX AMOS-6, ISS, ULA Atlas and Delta rockets, Orbital ATK Cygnus, Boeing, Space Taxis, Mars rovers, Orion, SLS, Antares, NASA missions and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events at Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL:

Mar 29/31, Apr 1: “SpaceX SES-10, EchoStar 23, CRS-10 launch to ISS, ULA Atlas SBIRS GEO 3 launch, GOES-R weather satellite launch, OSIRIS-Rex, SpaceX and Orbital ATK missions to the ISS, Juno at Jupiter, ULA Delta 4 Heavy spy satellite, SLS, Orion, Commercial crew, Curiosity explores Mars, Pluto and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings

SpaceX Falcon 9 booster from Thaicom-8 launch on May 27, 2016 arrives at mouth of Port Canaveral, FL on June 2, 2016. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Ken Kremer

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, research scientist, freelance science journalist (KSC area,FL) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calendars including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, FOX, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now, Science and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, NASA Wallops, NASA Michoud/Stennis/Langley and on over 80 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

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