Falcon Heavy Tests Grounded by Government Shutdown

SpaceX's three-core Falcon Heavy rocket launch deferred due to US govt shutdown
US government shutdown ruins SpaceX plans for a Falcon Heavy test fire
Author

23 January, 2018

SpaceX confirmed that the static fire test will be affected by the USA government shutdown, and will not take place until operations have resumed with the government. SpaceX really needs to do the static-fire in January, but depending on how long the government is shut down, it is foreseeable the tests won't be done until sometime in February.

Despite being a private company, SpaceX requires government assistance for almost all of their rocket test launches and static fires. The telescope itself is located at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where it completed a deep cryogenic test late past year simulating the conditions it will experience in space. SpaceX told Engadget that all launch operations will be delayed until the civilian employees of the 45th Space Wing return to work.

The launch of the Falcon Heavy will represent a watershed moment in spaceflight history.

"Due to the shutdown removing key members of the civilian workforce, the 45th Space Wing will not be able to support commercial static fires taking place on KSC", a spokesperson for the 45th Space Wing said in a statement.

File photo of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its launch pad in California.

Currently, the Falcon Heavy is on the launchpad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL awaiting its first test flight.

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If Falcon Heavy eventually passes its static fire test and successfully launches, it will become the most powerful rocket in operation since the Saturn V took Apollo astronauts to the moon. This policy is brought somewhat into question by the failure of Amos-6 - although that Falcon 9 was being prepared for a static fire test, its highly-destructive failure is understood to have occurred at least five or more minutes before the planned point of ignition. The Falcon 9 rocket is set for launch January 30 with a military communications satellite jointly managed by SES and the government of Luxembourg.

"This shutdown impacts SpaceX's Falcon Heavy demonstration, which is critical for future [national security space] missions", John Taylor, a SpaceX spokesperson, said in a statement. "It also impacts critical missions for our customers, including important worldwide allies scheduled to launch shortly from Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base".

United Launch Alliance's next mission is scheduled for March 1 with NOAA's GOES-S weather satellite.

That said, private companies are usually unaffected.


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