A View from Brittany Sauser

SpaceX Fires Its Engines

The static firings validated the engines ahead of the company’s maiden rocket flight.

  • October 23, 2009

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.

Test firing of the Falcon 9 engine at SpaceX’s test
site in Texas. Credit: SpaceX

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.

Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.
Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.