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Falcon 9 full up test of first stage

SpaceX tested the Falcon 9 a few days ago, November 22nd, on their giant test stand in McGregor Texas. I have reported previously as SpaceX increased the numbers of engines by a few at a time each test and am happy to report they have now succeeded in firing the nine Merlin engines in a sequence and for a period of time identical to that of a real mission.

Nine engines fired for 160 seconds; two were then shutdown and the remaining seven burned until the 178 second mark. The two engine shutdowns are done in the later stages of flight when much of the fuel mass has been burned off and the ‘G forces’ climb. This spare ‘oomph’ means a Falcon 9 can lose two engines and still reach the required orbit.

The stage developed 855,000 pounds of thrust at sea level. This will increase to about 1 million in vacuum. The Falcon 9 is not a little rocket.

A first flight attempt is expected from their Cape Canaveral pad during the first half of the coming year. I am not betting on a successful first flight, although it is a possibility. While the Merlin is now a fairly well understood engine, there are complex dynamic interactions between engines when you fly with more than one. I am sure Elon’s team has modeled and tested to the best of their ability, but simulations and ground tests are still ‘theory’ relative to real live flight.

I have no doubts whatever that the SpaceX team will have Falcon 9 flying for hire within the next two years.

You can watch the test here

6 comments to Falcon 9 full up test of first stage

  • Still it seems like a pretty selfless life to me, to work for SpaceX. It will be a long time before any of their employees can end their work day by going home to space. At least Helen Greiner can bring her latest Roomba home to play with every night.

  • Unsquander:

    As the words of the song go:

    “I’m everyman who ever fashioned cold refin-ed steel into the dreams of spaceflight, I’m the one who made them real”
    (From “Minus Ten and Counting”)

    Sure beats taking home a Roomba.

  • Sure beats taking home a Roomba.

    Yes, in the distant end it does, if you’re young enough to make it that far.

  • Unsquander, You’re missing the point. Working on these projects is its own reward. Sure wish I was at SpaceX or Blue Origin doing this stuff. And I already make stuff that flys and which I get to test and use. It just doesn’t fly in space.

  • Brett L

    Can’t wait. Can’t wait. I am praying I have enough advanced warning to drive down to the Cape and watch that thing go.

  • Unsquander, You’re missing the point.

    Yeah, I’ve had that feeling most of my life.