SpaceX Test Fires Recovered Falcon 9 Booster in Major Step To Reusable Rockets

Recovered Falcon 9 first stage standing on LZ-1 at Cape Canaveral after intact landing on Dec. 21, 2015. Credit: SpaceX

In a major advance towards the dream of rocket reusability, SpaceX successfully test fired the first stage engines of the Falcon 9 booster they successfully recovered last month – following its launch to the edge of space and back that ended with a history making upright landing at Cape Canaveral.The re-firing of the engines from history’s first recovered rocket took place Friday evening, Jan. 15. And the test results were initially confirmed by Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president for mission assurance during a media briefing, moments after it occurred.“Apparently it went very well,” said Koenigsmann, at the pre-launch briefing for NASA’s Jason-3 mission set for blastoff on a Falcon 9 on Sunday, Jan. 17, at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.The static fire test of the 156-foot-tall first stage involved ignition of all nine Merlin engines and was carried out at the same pad from which it launched on Dec. 21, 2015 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla and soft landed about 10 minutes later.Proving that the recovered rocket can be refurbished with minimal maintenance and eventually reflown is critical to demonstrating the rocket reuse is economically viable. The successful outcome of the test was announced by SpaceX billionaire founder and CEO Elon Musk.“Conducted hold-down firing of returned Falcon rocket,” Musk tweeted overnight after an initial data review.“Data looks good overall.”During the static fire test, the Falcon 9 was held down in place at the launch pad at Space Launch Complex-40, as is customary, as the engines fire for several seconds.However the duration of this particular test firing is not known at this time.Musk noted that although the “data looks ok” there was an issue with one of the nine Merlin 1D engines, which are attached at the boosters base in an octoweb arrangement.“Engine 9 showed thrust fluctuations,” —> Read More