SpaceX Falcon 9 Starts Its Engines for the First Time at Historic Launch Pad
The last time a rocket engine roared to life at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A, NASA's space shuttle Atlantis blasted off for what would become the final mission of a 30-year program.
On Sunday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket put some fire in the trenches at Florida's Launch Complex 39A as part of a routine, preflight engine test. The rocket is scheduled to blast off on Saturday to deliver a Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA.
"First static fire test of Falcon 9 at historic launch complex 39A completed in advance of Dragon's upcoming mission to the space station," SpaceX wrote on Twitter after Sunday's engine firing.
SpaceX in 2014 signed a 20-year lease for one of the space shuttle's old launch pads for its Falcon 9 and planned Falcon Heavy rockets.
SpaceX founder and chief executive noted on Twitter that 39A previously was used by the Apollo program's moon rockets.
"This is the same launch pad used by the Saturn V rocket that first took people to the moon in 1969. We are honored to be allowed to use it," Musk wrote.
NASA is keeping the second shuttle pad, 39B, for its heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket.
SpaceX's new pad is located just north of what had been its main launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. That pad, known as Launch Complex 40, was heavily damaged during a botched Falcon 9 engine test firing on Sept. 1.
Repairs to the launch pad are underway. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the costs should be far less than half the price of a new launch pad, which typically runs about $100 million.