PICTURE: First Falcon 9 launch vehicle first stage tank passes tests

by | Jul 29, 2009 | Seradata News | 0 comments

credit SpaceX / caption: the tank and interstage pass testing

Space Exploration Technologies’ has announced another milestone in the preparation for its first Falcon 9 launch. Read here Flightglobal’s review of SpaceX’s progress to date

SpaceX completes qualification of Falcon 9 First stage tank and interstage

McGregor, TX  (July 29, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces the successful completion of qualification testing for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle first stage tank and interstage.  Testing took place at SpaceX’s Texas Test Site, a 300 acre structural and propulsion testing facility, located just outside of Waco, Texas.   

The first stage tank and interstage hardware were subjected to a proof test of 1.1 times the maximum expected operating pressure (MEOP), and a burst pressure proof test of 1.4 MEOP; qualifying both articles with a 1.4 factor of safety.  The 1.4 factor of safety designation means that the first stage tank and the interstage can withstand 140 percent the maximum internal pressure expected during flight, and qualifies both pieces of hardware to meet human rating safety requirements, as defined by NASA. The first stage also passed this human rating milestone when subjected to structural bending tests. 

The testing regimen included over 150 pressurization cycles, exceeding the number of required life cycles by more than 100.  In addition, the first stage and interstage were subjected to stiffness tests, maximum dynamic pressure loading and main engine cutoff conditions; all at expected values, as well as ultimate loads. 

“Falcon 9 continues to pass qualification testing in preparation for its first flight, scheduled for 2009,” said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX.  “All hardware was designed to be man-rated, and these tests confirm that SpaceX is one step closer to flying humans on the Falcon 9/Dragon system.” 

Falcon 9’s first stage and interstage also passed ground wind qualification tests, critical for when the vehicle is vertical on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.  Both components were designed, built and tested by SpaceX. 

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