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[b]SpaceX Successfully Completes First Stage 9-Engine Rocket Firing[/b]
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully conducted two static firings of the first stage, nine engine cluster for its Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The firings took place at SpaceX's Texas Test Site, a 300-acre structural and propulsion testing facility just outside of Waco, Texas. With completion of these tests, the first stage has now passed both structural and propulsion acceptance testing and will ship to Cape Canaveral in preparation for the first flight of Falcon 9.
The first test fired for 10 seconds and occurred on October 12th at approximately 7:30 pm CDT. The second test began around 4:30 pm CDT on October 16th, and lasted 30 seconds.
The first stage of Falcon 9 uses a cluster of nine SpaceX-designed and developed Merlin engines. Using rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen, the cluster generates nearly a million pounds of thrust for the vehicle upon liftoff. The Merlin engine is one of the only liquid rocket engines designed in the United States in the last few decades, and is now among the highest performing gas generator cycle kerosene engines ever built, exceeding the Boeing Delta II main engine, the Lockheed Martin Atlas II main engine, and on par with the Saturn V F-1 engine.
The stage will ship to SpaceX's launch site at Cape Canaveral next month to begin vehicle integration in preparation for first flight. The inaugural flight of Falcon 9 will be a demonstration flight and will launch a Dragon spacecraft qualification unit into orbit to provide SpaceX with valuable aerodynamic and performance information.
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