Falcon 9 Staic Fires; Storm Eta approaches prior to weekend Launch of Crew-1
Amid dreary clouds and gusty winds, Space X managed to fire all nine Merlin-1D engines for a brief moment, in a Static Fire test leading up to one of the most important Space Mission's in recent history.
Early morning, Wednesday, November 11th, Space X rolled Falcon 9 B.1061 with Crew Dragon Ship, Resilience, out to the launch pad at Historic LC-39A. Following a minor second stage valve replacement which delayed testing the day before, the private aerospace company and customer, NASA, were ready to preform one of the final check-outs before Launching the historic Crew-1 mission later this week. The all Static Fire test. A routine checkout conducted before most Falcon Rocket launches, static fire ensures that vehicle fueling and engine ignition operations preform nominally before launch day. This seemingly regular task (per Space X's standards), comes at special importance now, with the upcoming cargo being four human Astronauts.
After preparations at the launch site were complete, fueling operations began on Falcon 9. At approximately ten minutes before 4pm, B.1061's Merlin-1D First Stage Engine's ignited for a brief moment, rumbling and shaking the earth, before systematically being shut-down. The large cloud of smoke and debris emerging from the 39A Flame Trench gave the usual appearance of a successful Static Fire. And, once the data from the test was fully reviewed, Launch provider Space X and NASA Kennedy Space Center took to Twitter to confirm that the test was successful:
Notably, Space X made mention of the fact that launch teams would continue to monitor weather conditions throughout the week, leading up to lift-off. This follows the landfall of Tropical Storm Eta, gearing direction across the Florida Peninsula from the West Coast, to the East Coast, projected to just miss the Kennedy Space Center launch site in the coming days. Concerns of the storm beginning to interfere with Launch began this morning when neighboring Launch Provider, United Launch Alliance, announced that their NROL-101 launch of an Atlas V Rocket would be delayed to Friday the 13th, nearly 24 hours prior to Crew-1. However, Range Weather Forecast's published by the 45th Space Wing early this afternoon projected fair condition's for this weekend, with Conditions on Saturday being 60% GO for Launch. The same been projected to hold true for a 24 hour delay to Sunday.
The one variable not accounted for by Weather forecasts, and the one that all eyes have now turned to, Recovery Conditions. Given that this a Crewed Flight, and safety is of the utmost importance, down range recovery options must play a factor in Launch Conditions in the unlikely case of an Abort. With Teams at Space X and NASA's Commercial Crew Program still pushing full steam ahead towards a Saturday night lift-off, it remains to be seen if Eta will have any further impact on the Crew-1 mission.
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