FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Director, Marketing and Communications
SpaceX Successfully Completes First Stage 9-Engine Rocket Firing
Falcon 9 First Stage Headed to Cape Canaveral for Vehicle Integration
McGregor, Texas – October 21, 2009 – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully conducted two static firings of the first stage, nine engine cluster for its Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The firings took place at SpaceX's Texas Test Site, a 300-acre structural and propulsion testing facility just outside of Waco, Texas. With completion of these tests, the first stage has now passed both structural and propulsion acceptance testing and will ship to Cape Canaveral in preparation for the first flight of Falcon 9.
The first test fired for 10 seconds and occurred on October 12th at approximately 7:30 pm CDT. The second test began around 4:30 pm CDT on October 16th, and lasted 30 seconds.
The first stage of Falcon 9 uses a cluster of nine SpaceX-designed and developed Merlin engines. Using rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen, the cluster generates nearly a million pounds of thrust for the vehicle upon liftoff. The Merlin engine is one of the only liquid
rocket engines designed in the United States in the last few decades, and is now among the highest performing gas generator cycle
kerosene engines ever built, exceeding the Boeing Delta II main engine, the Lockheed Martin Atlas II main engine, and on par with the
Saturn V F-1 engine.
The stage will ship to SpaceX's launch site at Cape Canaveral next month to begin vehicle integration in preparation for first flight. The inaugural flight of Falcon 9 will be a demonstration flight and will launch a Dragon spacecraft qualification unit into orbit to provide SpaceX with valuable aerodynamic and performance information.
For more information on the Falcon family of vehicles or the Dragon spacecraft products, please visit www.SpaceX.com.
SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles and spacecraft intended to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of both manned and unmanned space transportation, ultimately by a factor of ten. With the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 vehicles, SpaceX offers highly reliable/cost-efficient launch capabilities for spacecraft insertion into any orbital altitude and inclination. Starting in 2010, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will provide Earth-to-LEO transport of pressurized and unpressurized cargo, including resupply to the International Space Station (ISS).
Founded in 2002, SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The SpaceX team now numbers over 800, with corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, California. For more information, please visit the company's web site at www.spacex.com.
Falcon 9 nine engine test firing at SpaceX's Texas Test Site