CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX has fired up the Falcon 9 rocket that will ferry the company's next cargo resupply mission into space next week.
Around 5:30 p.m. EST (2230 GMT), the Falcon 9 rocket roared to life, as smoke billowed from its engines during the preflight test. The brief ignition, known as a static-fire test, is a standard part of prelaunch procedures and one of the last major milestones before liftoff.
During the test, the rocket is held down on its pad while its nine first-stage engines are briefly fired, allowing crews to ensure that all systems are working properly and that the rocket is ready to fly. Shortly after the test, SpaceX tweeted that the static fire was a success and that the company planned to launch on Dec 4 at 12:51 p.m. EST (1751 GMT).
The Dragon spacecraft supporting this mission previously flew in support of our fourth and eleventh commercial resupply missions pic.twitter.com/P6ceGX9Pz1November 26, 2019
"Falcon 9 static fire test complete — targeting December 4 launch from Pad 40 in Florida for Dragon's nineteenth resupply mission to the @Space_Station," SpaceX representatives wrote in the update.
After launch, Dragon is expected deliver its cargo of more than 5,700 lbs. (2,585 kilograms) of research gear and other supplies to the International Space Station on Dec. 7. It should return to Earth packed with experiment results and other items in a few weeks.
The last time a SpaceX Falcon 9 took to the skies was Nov. 11, when a booster carried a fresh batch of 60 Starlink satellites to orbit before returning to Earth and landing on a floating platform out in the Atlantic Ocean. Now, the company will loft a fresh supply of cargo for the astronauts aboard the space station. In addition to crew supplies, tucked inside the Dragon is a host of scientific research that will support many experiments during Expeditions 61 and 62.
The star of the upcoming launch will be a shiny, new Falcon 9 booster, a stark contrast to the previous mission that featured a veteran booster conducting its 4th flight — a first for SpaceX. Approximately 8 minutes after launch, SpaceX intends to land the rocket's first stage on one of the company's two drone ships, Of Course I Still Love You, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
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