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Rocket Development Facility

Texas

Rocket Development Facility

SpaceX tests its engines and structures at a 4,000-acre state-of-the-art rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. Every Merlin engine that powers the Falcon 9 rocket and every Draco thruster that controls the Dragon spacecraft is tested on one of 11 test stands. On our tripod test stand, the largest stand at 82 meters (269 feet) tall, the Falcon 9 first stage is tested with all nine Merlin engines firing at 1.3 million pounds of thrust for up to three minutes—the same as actual flight duration. All Falcon 9 flight structures are also tested on a 160-foot stand to simulate actual flight loads and pressures. In addition, the facility is home to a dual Merlin test stand consisting of two independent engine testing bays, allowing SpaceX to test up to 400 Merlin engines a year. Established in 2003, the site now averages two tests per day.

Launch Facilities

SpaceX maintains launch sites at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California.  Each location offers key benefits to support our customer’s missions.

Florida

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, SPACE LAUNCH COMPLEX 40

The site’s location on the southeast coast of the US provides access to a wide range of low and medium inclination orbits frequently used by communications and Earth-observing satellites and by supply missions to the International Space Station. The site also allows access to geostationary orbits, as well as departures to the Moon and interplanetary destinations. Situated on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, with Patrick Air Force Base to the south and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to the north, SLC-40 benefits from many support services in the region, including security and launch range control, weather monitoring, ground support infrastructure, payload processing facilities, and long-range tracking cameras capable of observing launches from liftoff through stage separation and second-stage ignition out over the Atlantic.

California

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, SPACE LAUNCH COMPLEX 4 EAST

The site’s location on the California coastline provides customers with access to high inclination and polar orbits, frequently used by satellite communication constellations, defense intelligence and Earth-observing satellites, and some lunar missions. Launches from Vandenberg heading straight south traverse open ocean all the way to the Antarctic, by which time the vehicles have long since reached orbit. SpaceX’s operations at SLC-4E benefit from Vandenberg‘s security and launch range control, weather monitoring, ground support infrastructure, payload processing facilities, and long-range tracking cameras capable of observing launches from liftoff through stage separation and second-stage ignition over the Pacific.