SpaceX Test-Fires Falcon Heavy Rocket Ahead of Maiden Flight.
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket fired up 27 main engines Wednesday on launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sending an Earth-shattering rumble across Florida’s Spacecoast, and moving the rocket one step closer to its first test flight.
The test firing took place at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time (1730 GMT), and lasted a whopping 12 seconds. And secured on top of what CEO Elon Musk claims will be the most powerful lift vehicle in the world is the billionaire’s red Tesla Roadster, which will be launched toward a Mars orbit on the Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight.
Viewing SpaceX’s video of the test fire is a thrill in itself. Not only was the rumbling ear-splitting and awesome, but the billowing exhaust plumes surrounding the launch site were tremendous when the full force from over 5 million pounds of thrust power was let loose.
As every space enthusiast remembers, the government was shut down for several days over the weekend, forcing SpaceX to delay the static fire tests. But once President Trump signed the bill to reopen the government temporarily, sources confirmed that SpaceX would run the full wet dress rehearsal on Wednesday.
“First static fire test of Falcon Heavy complete — one step closer to first test flight!” SpaceX tweeted shortly after the hold-down firing.
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk tweeted: “Falcon Heavy hold-down firing this morning was good. Generated quite a thunderhead of steam. Launching in a week or so.”
It is anticipated the 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon Heavy will be lowered and rolled back into its hangar for some final checks before being returned to its launch pad for the test flight later this week. Launch Complex 39A is historic in its own right, having hosted some of the world’s most powerful rockets.
And while Launchpad 39A was where the Saturn V was launched with the crew of Apollo 11, as well as being the site for the Space Shuttle program, Cape Canaveral has never seen a hold-down fire as powerful as the one conducted with Falcon Heavy.
The final word on the launch date for the Falcon Heavy has not been announced yet. SpaceX already has a launch of a Falcon 9 rocket scheduled for Jan. 30 from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad, just a few miles away from the 39A launch site.