SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is now vertical at Cape Canaveral historical launch complex 39-A for the first time in 5 years.
The California-based aerospace manufacturer is preparing for a liftoff scheduled for February 18, from the LC-39A, a part of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center located in Florida. If everything goes right, in a matter of days, the Falcon 9 launch vehicle will be transporting the robotic Dragon cargo capsule toward the International Space Station (ISS), said Space.com.
The Falcon 9 won’t be launching from its usual central pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Launch Complex 40. Following the September explosion during a routine fueling procedure for the rocket, the launch site was severely damaged, explained The Verge.
SpaceX had signed a 20-year lease for the launch pad in 2014 and is finally ready to start using it. Some renovations to the site had to be completed to support flights of the company’s rockets, as can be read on Space.com.
Besides refurbishing the 39A pad, SpaceX also constructed a large warehouse called the Horizon Integration Facility (HIF) right alongside the pad’s perimeter. The facility is used to store Falcon 9 rockets and prepping vehicles before take off to low Earth orbit. HIF has been used to temporarily store the reusable rockets the company has managed to land after launching them, published The Verge.
Only a week away from lift off, the rocket has already been placed atop the pad in preparation for a static fire, a test in which the engines are fired up while the vehicle is constrained, informed The Verge.
The February 18 launch will go on to become SpaceX’s 10th ISS resupply mission, delivering more than 5,500 lbs. (about 2,500 kg.) of scientific hardware and other supplies to the orbiting lab, according to Space.com.
The company also plans to lift off Falcon Heavy rockets from the 39-A launch pad, a variant of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle that consists of two additional strap-on boosters capable of increasing the payload to at least 54.4 tons, compared to the 22.8 tons his predecessor is currently able to push upward.
The Falcon Heavy was designed with the goal of carrying humans into space and maybe the possibility of taking crewed missions to the Moon or even as far as Mars. The Heavy rocket is still under development but founder and CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, has announced that its flight should come sometime over the course of this year, as noted by Space.com.
Historical Launching Site
LC-39A is remembered for lifting off Apollo moon missions and shuttles into space, before remaining dormant for five years, highlighted Space.com.
The last spacecraft to stand on top of the platform was the orbiter Atlantis that soared the skies on July 8, 2011, being the final flight of the rocket and with it, ending NASA’s space shuttle program missions, Space.com added.
Musk posted an image on the social media platform Instagram on Friday to share his excitement over the accomplishment.