A man in a hardhat stands before a giant rocket in an even larger hanger.
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/ SpaceX hot-fire checked this Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday.

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On Thursday afternoon, at Kennedy Area Center in Florida, SpaceX carried out a hot-fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket that will fly its very first industrial team presentation objective. This flight will not bring team members however will work as a test of the launch system, Team Dragon spacecraft, and the business’s capability to dock the lorry securely with the International Spaceport Station.

More than 2 hours after the 4pm ET test– in which the rocket’s very first phase engines are fired for a number of seconds to mimic liftoff while the rocket is secured down– SpaceX had yet to validate whether the test succeeded. Some early reports showed the test did not go through a complete shooting, which might or might not be an issue.

Thursday’s act of shooting the rocket, which will now be returned from the launchpad to SpaceX’s Horizontal Combination Center at the business’s Florida website, nonetheless represents a substantial advance for SpaceX and NASA.

Normally, such a shooting takes place one to 2 weeks prior to the launch of a rocket. NASA and SpaceX, nevertheless, have yet to validate a launch date for the objective. The existing, public, no-earlier-than date for the flight is February 16, however sources showed to Ars that, in regards to internal preparation, the existing WEB date is February 23.

Preparing Dragon

Prior to an official launch date is set, authorities with the business and area firm need to still provide the objective a thumbs-up throughout a last evaluation procedure. These evaluations will continue in spite of the partial federal government shutdown, as crucial NASA workers designated for the industrial team program are continuing to work without pay in assistance of the flight.

The rocket, obviously, is an important piece of the industrial team objective. Nevertheless, for these flights, the more significantly altered piece of hardware is the spacecraft, a considerably updated variation of the Dragon lorry SpaceX has actually utilized to provide the spaceport station because 2012.

In addition to life-support systems that can support as much as 7 astronauts, the Team Dragon has a number of crucial upgrades that need to be checked in spaceflight, such as photovoltaic panels developed into the spacecraft instead of ones extended by panels.

Offered this very first presentation objective continues as planned, SpaceX and NASA would invest the next a number of months evaluating information about the rocket and spacecraft’s efficiency prior to approaching a 2nd, crewed presentation flight. Possibly this objective might occur as early as July, however, most likely, the flight of NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken would happen at some point later on in the summer season or early fall.