A new rocket engine fired up for the first time in Texas last week, as Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), a private company, successfully tested the first-stage motor. The company, which is based in Hawthorne, CA, conducted two static firings of the engines for its Falcon 9 launch vehicle, in preparation for the rocket’s maiden test flight. It is expected to lift off sometime later this year from Cape Canaveral, FL.
The successful tests–the first lasted ten seconds, the second 30 seconds–mean that SpaceX’s first stage has passed structural and propulsion acceptance and the system can start its trek to Florida for integration into the Falcon 9.
More details on the engine from the the press release:
The first stage of Falcon 9 uses a cluster of nine SpaceX-designed and developed Merlin engines. Using rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen, the cluster generates nearly a million pounds of thrust for the vehicle upon liftoff. The Merlin engine is one of the only liquid rocket engines designed in the United States in the last few decades, and is now among the highest performing gas generator cycle kerosene engines ever built, exceeding the Boeing Delta II main engine, the Lockheed Martin Atlas II main engine, and on par with the Saturn V F-1 engine.