SpaceX — the Southern California rocket company where Elon Musk is founder, CEO and “chief designer” has announced a successful test of its new rocket engine.
The engine fired for 185 seconds with 147,000 pounds of thrust, the full duration and power required for a Falcon 9 rocket launch, SpaceX said.
“This is another important milestone in our efforts to push the boundaries of space technology,” SpaceX head Elon Musk said . “With the Merlin 1D powering the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, SpaceX will be capable of carrying a full range of payloads to orbit.”
During the previous three launches — including the historic SpaceX Dragon capsule mission to the International Space Station (ISS) that blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on May 22 — nine Merlin 1C’s got the Falcon 9 into space. The engines performed flawlessly.
SpaceX is expected to operate its first cargo mission to the space station later this year with a second planned before the end of 2012.
SpaceX is one of two companies awarded a contract to deliver cargo for NASA, and the company is also in a NASA-funded competition to deliver a vehicle to shuttle astronauts to the ISS and elsewhere in low earth orbit.