Falcon Heavy at Night Bathed in Light: Goes Vertical for SpaceXStatic Fire Attempt NET Jan. 15: Photos
Ken Kremer -- Space UpClose -- 12 Jan 2018MERRITT ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REGUGE/PLAYALINDA BEACH, FL – The Falcon Heavy at Night was bathed in Light tonight - as the triple core SpaceX rocket went vertical once more – for only the third time ever at pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Jan. 12 as company technicians prepared for the crucial Static Fire Test which just slipped a few more days following Thursdays initial attempt.
Enjoy our exclusive SpaceUpClose gallery of photos of the maiden Falcon Heavy snapped Friday evening, Jan. 12 standing proudly at historic Launch Complex 39A as multiple rounds of rains squalls pummeled the Space Coast late today. It’s the first time I’ve seen the rocket in the evening.
The Falcon Heavy glowed magnificently, lit up by banks of powerful Xenon lights under completely overcast skies drenched by off and on rain showers.
Today was another busy day at the Cape as SpaceXworkers try and ready the mammoth rocket for another attempt at completing the crucial Static Fire Test of all 27 first stage engines that initially was rescheduled for late Saturday, Jan. 13, but has now shifted to NET (no earlier than) Monday, Jan. 15.
The Static Fire Test is tentatively planned for Jan. 15 with a window that runs from 4 to 10 p.m. EST (2100 to 0300 UTC). Since Jan. 15 is the MLK day Federal holiday a further slip is possible.
The engine tests is scheduled to last a whopping 12 seconds in duration, much longer then the routine duration of 3 to 7 seconds for the Falcon 9.
The hold down static fire test is an absolute prerequisite to ensure the rocket is truly ready for its debut launch by running through a full countdown dress rehearsal. The launch could take place perhaps as soon as late January.
The triple barreled rocket had been lowered down to the horizontal position early this morning after SpaceX engineers loaded cryogenic propellants into the mammoth rocket for the first time on Thursday as they tried to carry out the first attempt at a hot fire test.
However the launch team aborted the engine firing before reaching T-Zero.
Although good progress was made loading significant amounts of propellants into the three cores – as evidenced by the vigorous venting at about the T-Minus 40 minute mark - the propellant loading stopped at some point because no further venting was observed thereafter.
It’s not known why the test firing was scrubbed or if the SpaceX engineering team completed a full cryogenic propellant load into the first and second stages.
After aborting the hot fire test, SpaceX engineers detanked the vehicle and took it down horizontally on the Transporter-Erector (TE) overnight Friday.
Engineers spent the day analyzing all the data from the propellant loading test and worked to resolveany issues that may have been detected and caused the engine firing scrub.
The gigantic two stage Falcon Heavy stands more than 229 feet (70 meters) tall and measures 39.9 feet wide (12.2 meters). It also features a dozen grid fins and a dozen landing legs attached to the first stage boosters in an attempt to soft land all three cores– by land and by sea.
The Falcon Heavy first stage will generate 5.1 million pounds of liftoff thrust fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants, when it blasts off from pad 39A.
Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of SpaceX Zuma, Falcon Heavy, ULA and NASA and space mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
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