SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket passed test fire planned before scheduled for September 7th, 2017, launch of U.S. Air Force X-37B robotic space plane.
SpaceX performed test fire of Falcon-9 rocket on August 31 at LC-39A at Kennedy Space Center. Rocket without encapsulated vehicle was rolled out from hangar to the launch site; ground service team connected power and fueling lines reporting no problems with fueling process. Rocket ignited its nine Merlin -1D engines at 20:30 UTC for just for several seconds.
Test was performed flawless, no problems were not reported during fueling, countdown or burn.
OTV-5 mission is first launch of X-37B conducted with SpaceX Falcon-9. Previously vehicle was delivered to orbit on the top of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. As United States Air Force is operating X-37B mostly as experimental vehicle with potential for utilizing vehicle for scientific purposes. Planned for this week mission covering delivering on the top of the different rocket than usual could be also considered as new test for vehicle. For sure this mission will be big test for SpaceX, with successful delivering to orbit X-37B, probably company could count on more contracts from Department of Defense in future.
Due the classified character of the Orbital Test Vehicle – 5 it was not precisely what is main objective of the mission. As claims USAF in official press release:
“The fifth OTV mission continues to advance the X-37B’s performance and flexibility as a space technology demonstrator and host platform for experimental payloads. This mission carries small satellite ride shares and will demonstrate greater opportunities for rapid space access and on-orbit testing of emerging space technologies.”
Falcon-9 will perform attempt of landing of the first stage at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral just after delivering upper stage 100 km over Karaman line.