Falcon 9 launch scheduled for Monday after hold-down engine firing – Spaceflight Now

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, without its payload, is test-fired Thursday at pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: SpaceX

The launch of a commercial Bulgarian television broadcast satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is set for Monday after SpaceX ran through a mock countdown Thursday and test-fired a previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket’s Merlin main engines.

The rocket’s recycled first stage, which first flew on a satellite deployment flight Jan. 14 from California, ignited its nine Merlin 1D main engines at 6:25 p.m. EDT (2225 GMT) Thursday for several seconds while restraints kept the two-stage Falcon 9 firmly grounded at launch pad 39A.

A cloud of exhaust erupted from the launch pad’s flame trench, and SpaceX later confirmed on Twitter that the so-called static fire test went according to plan.

The static fire is a customary milestone in all of SpaceX’s launch campaigns, used as a rehearsal for the company’s launch team and as a test of the rocket’s readiness for flight.

SpaceX pushed back the launch of the BulgariaSat 1 communications satellite two days — from Saturday to Monday — earlier his week after preparations for the static fire ran behind schedule.

Thursday’s test was conducted without a payload on-board the booster, standard practice for SpaceX after a Falcon 9 rocket exploded on a nearby launch pad at Cape Canaveral last September, destroying the launch vehicle and an Israeli-owned communications satellite in the final minutes of the co....

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