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SpaceX Successfully Tests Nine-Engine Cluster 182

the_other_chewey writes "At their test facility in Texas, SpaceX, the privately funded space-flight company, have successfully tested their nine-engine cluster which is planned to provide the heavy lifting capability for their Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy rockets. The firing lasted three minutes (a full 'mission duty cycle,' i.e. a simulated launch) under full power, delivering 3.8MN (or 855,000 lbs.) of thrust. SpaceX have made a video of the test available. The Waco Tribune has a short report about it, with comments by locals."
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SpaceX Successfully Tests Nine-Engine Cluster

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  • by thesymbolicfrog ( 907527 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2008 @11:17AM (#25872871)

    I read, "The Waco Tribune has short report about it, with comments by lolcats."

    I need either more sleep or less internet.

  • by GargamelSpaceman ( 992546 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @11:25AM (#25872987) Homepage Journal
    But gollum bit one off and fell into a volcano.
  • by nacturation ( 646836 ) * <nacturation@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday November 24, 2008 @11:31AM (#25873071) Journal

    I'm surprised they didn't name the rocket the Beowulf 9.

  • Uninformative video (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <hobbes&xmsnet,nl> on Monday November 24, 2008 @11:32AM (#25873081)

    The great big plume of fire and smoke is impressive, but I would have preferred a pre-ignition closeup of the engine cluster.

  • Congrats SpaceX (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Diagoras ( 859063 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @11:39AM (#25873151)
    I'm looking forward to the launch. Anyone know when that is? I've heard everything from January to March from several people. Anywho,let's hope that SpaceX succeeds. Otherwise we'll end up depending on Russia from 2010 to 2015 for our man-capable launch systems with all the political consequences that entails.
    • Re:Congrats SpaceX (Score:5, Informative)

      by ComputerInsultant ( 722520 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @12:04PM (#25873447)
      Unless NASA releases money for COTS-D very soon, we will still have a manned launch gap. The Falcon 9 and Dragon are man rated, but to launch people into using the Falcon 9 and Dragon, you need much more. You need a Launch Escape System and a Emergency Egress System. Neither of these is currently in development at SpaceX and both have a long lead time to develop.

      Without the additional COTS-D money to start development on these systems, SpaceX will not carry people until they find the money from other sources to fund these development efforts.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nyeerrmm ( 940927 )

      This test was the last major step before shipping it to the cape, so it seems the schedule on the website with delivery scheduled by Q408 is accurate. As far as when it launches... my WAG is by summer. From what I can tell getting it to the cape is largely a move to show the new administration "hey, remember us and COTS", so there may be a bit more work that has to be done on it.

      Here's hoping the lessons from F1 carry over and there aren't new issues to discover.

  • by bossanovalithium ( 1396323 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @11:39AM (#25873155)
    The price of gas must've made the test irresistible..
  • And... (Score:5, Funny)

    by owlnation ( 858981 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @11:50AM (#25873269)
    The headline in today's Arachnid Advertiser states:

    Biped Puppets Successfully Complete Engine Test. The Grand Plan Still On Schedule.
  • O.o (Score:5, Funny)

    by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @12:00PM (#25873381)

    the privately funded space-flight company, have successfully tested their nine-engine cluster

    But can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of these? If only global _cooling_ was our problem..

  • Cool! Go Science! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crescente ( 1334029 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @12:02PM (#25873419)
    With all the cries for help in the finance world, it warms my heart to see a science/research based company giving me some good news. Cheers!
    • by 32771 ( 906153 )

      Lately some staff at SpaceX, formerly employed at NASA, were overheard saying "... who is complaining that rocket scientists are dealing with volatile stuff now". "Surely that 700 billion rescue package rips a hole large enough to fit 5 shuttle programs through, disasters included, and lets see whether the market has some engine restart capability" a colleague added.

      Some soon to be space entrepreneur remarked in the past that "Derivatives are like Hydrazine, carrying dangers that, while latent when properly

  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @12:14PM (#25873607)

    The old Rocketdyne [] engine test center was located a few miles outside my home town many, many years ago. The old timers said that the noise was ungodly when they tested their engines. Among the many things they would complain about in this rural area, was that the cows would become so upset, they wouldn't give milk.

    When I was a college student back in the early 80's my friends and I used to love to take my jeep out to explore the "ruins" of the old test center. Most impressive were the deflectors (don't know what else to call them) that shunted the rocket blast 90 degrees to vertical. They were enormous. I have no doubt that the locals weren't exaggerating too much when they described the noise and vibration from the engine tests.

    • Dude, you were in Chatsworth? I lived in Chatsworth for 12 years -- now in West Hills.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by flyingfsck ( 986395 )
      The noise from a large missile motor is incredible. I have worked at a test site in a previous life and it is something you never forget. So, yes, I'm not surprised that the cows got upset - I am surprised that they didn't stampede and broke through the fences.
  • by holmstar ( 1388267 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @12:30PM (#25873797)
    "I live in Valley Mills, just taking the last steak off the grill. Space-X shook the T-Bone off the grill hit my dog on the head, he thought I smacked him, he bit my ankle. My wife just getting into our water bed shook up a huge wave, threw her out of bed. She blamed it all on me. Milk in now butter-milk, the cats,will not leave the kitchen. My son couldnâ(TM)t hear his stereo, cranked it up, blew the windows out of the neighbors house. Guess Iâ(TM)ll be replacing them on Sunday. It was a great light show!"
  • I came across an additional amateur video from farther away after submitting the story: []

    SpaceX' video unfortunately lacks the proper amount of bass
    to really give a sense of the sheer power shown.
  • by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Monday November 24, 2008 @01:12PM (#25874355) Homepage Journal
    Dear Greater Waco Area Residents, We appreciate your feedback regarding our recent test as it allows us to improve our notification process to the surrounding community. Since we began operations in 2003, SpaceX has conducted over 2000 tests, and nearly ten have been multiple engine tests at similar times of day. During these previous tests, we did not receive complaints from citizens in your area. The weather on November 22, with low clouds and cool temperatures, drastically affected the distance the sound and light travelled. We began test procedures for this particular test at 7:00am on Friday, Nov. 21 and executed it as quickly as possible, working through hundreds of pages of procedures designed to keep the community, staff, and hardware safe. While no further tests are planned for this stage in McGregor, in the future we will increase our notification to include local news media and law enforcement in McLennan, Coryell, Bell, and Falls counties. As a resident of Central Texas for over 25 years, with family in the area, it is extremely important to me, as well as all of SpaceX, who choose to raise their families in the area, that our testing is safe for local residents. The propellants used are non-toxic and environmentally friendly, In factâ"the Falcon 9 burns a higher grade of kerosene (more environmentally friendly) than a 747 and burns only about half of what a single 747 flight does. The smoke you may have seen was composed mostly of steam and dust. SpaceX strives to be a good corporate neighbor, bring high technology jobs to the area, and stimulate the local economy. We are proud to have operations in McGregor and make use of facilities which have historically played such an important role in American history. Engines which propelled American astronauts to the moon and back were developed and tested here, as well as the Sidewinder and Phoenix missiles. The launch vehicle engines tested last night will soon take cargo, and eventually crew, to the International Space Station. Falcon 9 represents the only medium to heavy lift rocket that is 100 percent Made in America and with this vehicleâ"SpaceX will bring leadership in launch back to the US. The leadership role is currently held by former Soviet Republics, France, and China. []
  • ...are concerned about this new 'fire' fad. On the heels of flying machines and horseless carriages its just too much culture shock for them.
    • Has it occurred to you that the reporter just might have gone out of her way to select comments that tend to make the locals look like hicks?

  • The thrust of this test is appoximately equivalent to the gross weight of a 747. So you could use it to make a 747 hover like a Harrier!

    • by e2d2 ( 115622 )

      And a 747 is like a football field long! Or 2 statue of liberties, depending on your measurement.

      I love these comparisons when I hear them.

  • There must be hundredths of ambulance chasers roaming Waco right now figuring a way to squeeze some cash out of SpaceX because of this.

    Emotional Distress Class Action Lawsuit anyone?

  • Wow, imagine the carbon offset for that!

    • by FleaPlus ( 6935 )

      As noted elsewhere, the amount of fuel used is roughly equivalent to half that of a typical 747 flight.

      • Wow, depends where you're flying that 747 I guess, but I didn't realise it used THAT much fuel in such a short time. Astonishing.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll