Update 8:30 pm: It took a couple of tries, but SpaceX did carry out the static fire test successfully on Monday. The countdown to the original T-0 time of 3 pm EDT stopped with 47 seconds to go. The company said an unspecified anomaly caused the flight computer to stop the count. After resolving the issue, the countdown proceeded and the engines ignited for two seconds at 4:15 pm EDT (2015 GMT). “So far things look good. Engines fired for 2 seconds, as scheduled. Engineers will now review data as we continue preparations for the upcoming launch,” the company said in an emailed statement.
Elon Musk, though, put it a little more succinctly:
Woohoo, rocket hold down firing completed and all looks good!!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 30, 2012
One other note: while the test was webcast, there was virtually no information provided by the company during the test, especially after the original countdown was aborted. Even the company’s updates on Twitter were remarkably terse:
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 30, 2012
Hopefully on the upcoming actual launch this Monday the company will have a freer flow of information.
Original Post: SpaceX plans to carry out a “hot fire” test of its Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad today, one of the final tests leading up to next Monday’s scheduled launch of a Dragon spacecraft on a test flight to the International Space Station. SpaceX has scheduled the test, where the Falcon 9’s nine first-stage engines are briefly ignited, for 3 pm EDT (1900 GMT) today. The test will be webcast on the SpaceX web site starting at 2:30 pm EDT.
The test is one of the last major milestones before the launch of that Falcon 9 carrying a Dragon spacecraft, currently scheduled for 9:38 am EDT (1338 GMT) May 7. The Dragon will fly on what SpaceX and NASA call the “C2+” mission for the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, making a close approach to the station and, if all goes well, berthing with the station. A completely successful flight would allow SpaceX to begin commercial cargo deliveries to the ISS later this year, although both the company and the space agency have emphasized that this is a test flight.