SpaceX is set to embark on its historic first launch from Kennedy Space Center’s Apollo-era pad 39A on February 18, 2017. The space company led by billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk will undergo a pre-launch static fire tomorrow ahead of next week’s resupply mission to the International Space Station. According to a report by UniverseToday, the FAA has yet to grant a launch license for the flight; however, a launch license is not required for the static fire test to be conducted.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 8, 2017
SLC 40, the launch pad damaged in the September 1, 2016 explosion, is expected to complete repairs within the next few months before being fully operational again. Some speculations suggest that with the construction efforts on Pad 39A tapering off, more resources are now available to divert repairs to SLC 40.
The February 18th launch will carry the 10th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. Following that mission will be the launch of EchoStar 23, now scheduled for March 1, 2017, and the launch of SES-10 to follow which will sit atop the first refurbished Falcon 9 core to return to space.
SpaceX still has plans for the maiden voyage of its Falcon Heavy, destined to become the most powerful operational rocket in the world, sometime in the second quarter – possibly May. A fan recently helped elevate hopes by posting a photo of a Falcon Heavy side booster en route to SpaceX’s testing facility in MacGregor, Texas.
To fans’ delight, Elon Musk was queried on Twitter about the photo and didn’t deny the speculation. In the SpaceX rumor world, that’s as good as a confirmation.
@VoltzCoreAudio I don't know what make you think that's a rocket. It's completely covered in a tarpaulin…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 8, 2017
While the roll out of launches has been slow since Falcon 9’s return-to-flight in January following the September 1st explosion, SpaceX plans a ramp up of activity after the February 18th launch, possibly conducting launches every two weeks.