Thursday, February 25, 2010
SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle is now vertical at Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral! Click the image below to see the time lapse video:
Video: The full flight-ready Falcon 9 launch vehicle with Dragon qualification spacecraft raised to vertical on the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Click image to play video. Credit: SpaceX.
Taking the rocket vertical was the most recent milestone in a series of key launch prep activities at the Cape in recent weeks. Prior to this, SpaceX fully integrated all flight hardware, mating the first stage, second stage and Dragon qualification spacecraft in the SpaceX hangar at SLC-40.
Falcon 9 flight hardware undergoing final integration in the hangar at SpaceX's Cape Canaveral launch site in Florida. Components include: Dragon spacecraft qualification unit (l), second stage with Merlin Vacuum engine (ctr), first stage with nine Merlin 1C engines (r). Credit: SpaceX
Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft fully integrated in the SpaceX hangar at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX
We then raised the entire vehicle and placed it on to the mobile transporter. The following days involved connecting the vehicle to the transporter's support systems, including lines for RP-1 fuel, liquid oxygen (LOX), gaseous helium and nitrogen, as well as numerous electrical and data connections.
These attach to the vehicle through three umbilical connectors – two at the base of the first stage on opposite sides, and one at the top of the interstage that supplies the second stage. They remain connected until liftoff, when they detach and pull away from the departing vehicle, just as with the Falcon 1.
Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX
After verifying all the connections (leak checking the fluid and gas systems, and continuity checking the electrical systems), the team joined the entire flight-ready Falcon 9 to the launch support system for the first time. The process went very smoothly thanks to the efforts of our hardworking team down at the Cape.
Next, we opened the hangar doors and rolled the entire system out to the launch platform. There, we anchored to the launch mount, and connected the combined transporter/rocket to the ground-based feeds and support. We then conducted another set of system checks to verify those systems – the same set of liquids, gasses, electrical and data.
Mounted on the mobile transporter, the full flight-ready Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft rolls to the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.
On the morning of Saturday 20 February, we brought the vehicle to vertical, and began preparations for tanking and static test firing.
The full flight-ready Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft stands on the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.
Aerial view of Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft on the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX.
The full flight-ready Falcon 9 with Dragon qualification spacecraft stands on the launch pad at SLC-40, Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX.
Coming up next, we prepare the vehicle and launch pad for static firing. During the test firing we will collect data from numerous sensors on and around the vehicle, then review all data thoroughly prior to launch.
Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to progress towards the first flight of Falcon 9.