SpaceX and NASA are busy preparing for the first crewed launch from U.S. soil in nearly a decade. As the countdown ticks away, teams are conducting final checks on the launch vehicle.
This week, the Falcon 9 rolled out to the launch pad. Engineers conducted a final engine test ahead of the rocket’s big flight. That test, known as a static fire test is part of SpaceX’s pre-launch routine. Ahead of every launch, the company briefly fires up the nine Merlin engines on the booster as it’s held down on the launch pad.
After a data review, engineers then gave the booster the all-clear to proceed to launch on May 27.
Static fire of Falcon 9 complete – targeting Wednesday, May 27 at 4:33 p.m. EDT for Crew Dragon’s launch to the @Space_Station with @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug on board → https://t.co/bJFjLCzWdK pic.twitter.com/bhcTq4jxAr
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 22, 2020
The hot-fire test is something that SpaceX does before each launch. Typically the payload is not attached but in this case, it was a requirement by NASA as a way to practice fueling procedures with the Dragon attached.
On launch day, Bob and Doug will strap themselves into the Dragon approximately two hours and fifteen minutes prior to liftoff. The hatch will close 25 minutes later.
At T-45 minutes, the launch director will give the go/no signal for the propellant load. Three minutes later, the crew access arm will retract, and the Dragon’s onboard escape system will be armed five minutes later.
Then it will be time to load the Falcon 9 with its mix of RP-1 (refined kerosene) and liquid oxygen. Following propellant load, the final pre-launch checks will be conducted before liftoff.
SpaceX received the green light to proceed towards launch, but it just has one more test before the all-clear is given launch on Wednesday: a launch readiness review.