Published: Tue, February 14, 2017
Tech | By Constance Martin

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Makes Debut On Historic NASA Launchpad

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Makes Debut On Historic NASA Launchpad

SpaceX successfully completed a pre-launch static fire test yesterday of its Falcon 9 rocket ahead of this week's resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch pad has a storied history, with all of the crewed Apollo missions except for Apollo 10 lifting off from the pad, as well as the first 24 space shuttle missions.

The mission will be launched from the iconic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center which saw the liftoff of Apollo 11 as well as many Space Shuttle missions that helped place the Hubble Telescope and the space station in orbit.

According to the California-based company, Falcon 9 will blast robotic Dragon cargo capsule, carrying cargo and science experiments toward the International Space Station.

In 2014, SpaceX signed a 20-year lease with NASA for 39A, but the company has since been working to modify the site to work with its rockets.

Pad 39A has lain dormant for launches for almost six years since Space Shuttle Atlantis launched on the final shuttle mission STS 135 in July 2011. "We are honored to be allowed to use it", Mr. Musk wrote.

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It was a static fire test accident at the nearby Launch Complex-40 on September 1, 2016 that forced SpaceX to accelerate refurbishment plans of Launch Complex-39A to maintain East Coast launch capabilities.

-The NASA Kennedy Space Center launch pad from which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin blasted off to the moon has sat dormant for years.

The February 18 launch will go on to become SpaceX's 10th ISS resupply mission, delivering more than 5,500 lbs.

SpaceX now operates three launch pads and is a building a fourth.

Despite pushing private companies to innovate in space technologies, NASA hasn't given up on its own rockets. It is scheduled to take its first test flight in fall of 2018, when it will to launch from Kennedy's Launch Complex 39B, a site located down the street from SpaceX's historic launch pad. If Space X can prove its reusable rocket system is viable, it will begin making big savings on future rocket launches and can price itself accordingly.

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