SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket ignited its main engines at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad Thursday night, clearing a major hurdle before liftoff May 31 with the SES 12 communications satellite.
The Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D main engines ignited at 9:30 p.m. EDT Thursday (0130 GMT Friday) as clamps held the two-stage rocket firmly on the ground. A cloud of exhaust erupted from the base of the rocket before commands were issued to switch off the engines as planned.
The static fire test is a customary milestone in all SpaceX launch campaigns, and the next step ahead of next week’s launch will be the Falcon 9’s return to a nearby hangar for attachment of the SES 12 communications satellite.
Liftoff is scheduled for 12:29 a.m. EDT (0429 GMT) on Thursday, May 31.
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