SpaceX Test-Fires Falcon 9 Rocket Ahead of Dec. 4 Dragon Launch for NASA

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. 

SpaceX conducted a static-fire test on Tuesday (Nov. 27) of a Falcon 9 booster at Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here ahead of its planned launch on Dec. 4.

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).

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"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.

Unlike the Falcon 9, this Dragon has flown before; CRS-19 will be the spacecraft's third trip to the space station. (The Dragon previously delivered supplies for CRS-4 in 2014 and CRS-11 in 2017.)

Follow Amy Thompson on Twitter @astrogingersnap. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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Amy Thompson
Contributing Writer

Amy Thompson is a Florida-based space and science journalist, who joined as a contributing writer in 2015. She's passionate about all things space and is a huge science and science-fiction geek. Star Wars is her favorite fandom, with that sassy little droid, R2D2 being her favorite. She studied science at the University of Florida, earning a degree in microbiology. Her work has also been published in Newsweek, VICE, Smithsonian, and many more. Now she chases rockets, writing about launches, commercial space, space station science, and everything in between.