Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as SpaceX, conducted a mock launch Monday, April 30 in preparation for an upcoming mission. The goal of the test was to gather data that would be used in preparation for and during future launches.
The private space exploration company conducted a static fire test on its rocket, Falcon 9, and the rocket’s nine Merlin engines at its Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The static fire test consisted of a run-through of the launch sequence followed by a two-second firing of the rocket’s engines.
With a successful test Monday, the company is moving forward with a live launch targeted for Monday, May 7. This will be the second launch as part of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS). COTS is a collaborative effort between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and private companies with the purpose of delivering cargo and crews to the International Space Station (ISS).
During the May 7 mission, engineers at SpaceX and NASA will conduct a series of tests on the Dragon spacecraft, Falcon 9’s capsule, while the rocket is in flight. In the event that these tests yield positive results, Dragon, loaded with cargo meant for the ISS, will proceed with the primary mission of the launch and dock with the ISS.
If Dragon successfully docks with the ISS, SpaceX will become the first private company to send a rocket to the space station. With only a handful of governments docking with the ISS, SpaceX’s success could have profound implications on the future of space exploration.
Upon a successful dock with the ISS, SpaceX will begin a series of at least 12 missions under a Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. The ultimate goals of SpaceX’s research and the development of the Falcon 9 rocket, Merlin engines and Dragon capsule is to transport astronauts into space.