On Saturday, March 13, SpaceX successfully completed a test firing of the inaugural Falcon 9 launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 40 located at Cape Canaveral. Following a nominal terminal countdown, the launch sequencer commanded ignition of all 9 Merlin first stage engines for a period of 3.5 seconds The March 13th test seemed to be completely successful
Just prior to engine ignition, the pad water deluge system was activated providing acoustic suppression to keep vibration levels within acceptable limits. The test validated the launch pad propellant and pneumatic systems as well as the ground and flight control software that controls pad and launch vehicle configurations.
This was the final step for the rocket and launch pad before launch itself. We are now waiting for completion of the final set of tests of the flight termination system, specifically the explosives and initiators, and the acceptance of that test documentation by Air Force range safety. As soon as the tests are complete and the Air Force has signed off, we will move forward with launch.
If all goes as hoped, the first countdown attempt may be as soon as next month. It’s important to note this is not a prediction of when we will launch, just when we will probably try a countdown. Additional images of SpaceX’s successful Falcon 9 static fire below—stay tuned for more updates as we continue to progress towards the first flight of Falcon 9/Dragon.