Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mighty SpaceX Falcon Heavy Roars to Life Emitting Enormous Exhaust Plume After Stunning 1st Static Fire Engine Test

Debut SpaceX Falcon Heavy ignites 27 first stage engines during first ever static fire test generating 5 million pounds of thrust and an enormous exhaust plume on
Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida – as seen on Jan. 24  2018 from Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  Debut liftoff slated for early February 2018.  Credit: Ken Kremer/

Ken Kremer  --  --   24 Jan 2018

MERRITT ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REGUGE/PLAYALINDA BEACH, FL –   The mighty SpaceX Falcon Heavy made space history today, roaring to life for the first time ever - emitting an enormous exhaust plume after firing up all 27 first stage engines generating 5 million pounds of thrust and successfully conducting the first ever hold down static fire test at historic pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

SpaceX billionaire CEO and founder Elon Musk declared the test firing a success soon after the mammoth triple core rocket ignited all 27 of its Merlin 1D first stage engines putting on stunning display of firepower and thundering sound today, Jan. 24, at approximately 12:30 p.m. EST on seaside Launch Complex 39A at KSC

“Falcon Heavy hold-down firing this morning was good, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted.

“Generated quite a thunderhead of steam.”

For over 10 seconds finally we heard the SpaceX Falcon Heavy produce the biggest and loudest rocket firing reverberate across the Florida Space Coast since the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle over six years ago dating back to July 2011. The test has been delayed a quite number of times over the past few weeks as workers tested hardware and software and resolved issues.

The exhaust plume of steam and ash towered high in the skies over pad 39A.  It was far bigger, more impressive and louder than the single stick SpaceX Falcon 9 static fire tests which typically last about 3 to 7 seconds.

Check out our Space UpClose gallery as I watched the magnificent test firing along with space journalist colleagues and the public from the Playalinda Causeway on the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

The 22 story tall Falcon Heavy was glistening in the midday sun under uncommonly picture perfect January skies in the moments leading up to engine ignition.

The soon to be ‘World’s Most Powerful Rocket’ should finally blastoff soon, perhaps as soon as early February.  

“Launching in a week or so,” Musk added.

The debut liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy on its first demonstration mission is now closer than ever before after years of development.

“First static fire test of Falcon Heavy complete—one step closer to first test flight!” tweeted SpaceX.

The static fire test had been postponed multiple times over the past few weeks as the SpaceX launch team carried out numerous pad operations, rollout, raising erect and lowering as well as what called ‘Wet Dress Rehearsals’ where technicians conduct  critical pumping and loading operations of the liquid oxygen and RP-1 kerosene propellants into the first and second stages.

Watch this video of the today’s static test fire:

Video Caption: SpaceX Falcon Heavy TEST FIRE Jan 24, 2018. America's new rocket, the inaugural SpaceX Falcon Heavy, came to life for the first time for a Static Test Fire on KSC pad 39A Jan 24, 2018.  Credit: Jeff Seibert

A successful static fire test is one of the last major milestones required before SpaceX can attempt to really launch the Falcon Heavy on the maiden demonstration mission of this very complicated vehicle.

The payload is Musk’s Tesla Roaster that will be hurled outward on a whimsical trip to Mars orbit.

The triple stick Falcon Heavy is comprised of a trio of Falcon 9 boosters - including a significantly modified central core, to deal with aerodynamic stresses, that is attached to a pair of side-mounted cores with newly developed nose cones mounted in place of payload fairings. 

The two side cores are ‘flight-proven’ boosters that already launched once and are being recycled for the Heavy.

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.

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of Falcon Heavy, ULA and NASA and space mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: – twitter @ken_kremer

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