SpaceX Test Fires Falcon 9 Rocket’s First Stage

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Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) conducted two static firings of the Falcon 9 rocket’s nine-engine first stage at the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company’s Texas Test Site in mid-October, SpaceX said in an Oct. 21 press release.

SpaceX fired the kerosene-fueled first stage for 10 seconds Oct. 12 and for 30 seconds Oct. 16. According to the company, the first stage has now passed both structural and propulsion acceptance testing.

SpaceX said it plans to ship the first stage to Cape Canaveral, Fla., in November to begin vehicle integration for the Falcon 9’s maiden flight. The company did not say when it expects that flight to occur, but an Oct. 5 press release said the launch would take place one month to three months after Falcon 9 arrives at the Cape.

SpaceX’s customer for Falcon 9’s launch debut is a U.S. government entity that the company is not permitted to name. When SpaceX first announced the contract in 2005, the company said the launch would occur in 2007.