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article imageFalcon Heavy test-fire on hold due to government shutdown

By Karen Graham     Jan 22, 2018 in Politics
Cape Canaveral - SpaceX will be unable to do a static-fire test of all 27 of its Falcon Heavy rocket's engines at Kennedy Space Center due to the government shutdown, further delaying the setting of a definitive launch date for the massive rocket.
"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," said the wing on Sunday, reports Florida Today.
The 230-foot-tall Falcon Heavy rocket sitting on launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center has been fueled at least twice by SpaceX teams ahead of the static-fire test, and undisclosed delays held up the testing. But this time, it was the lawmakers themselves who caused the delay.
SpaceX s Falcon Heavy rocket  as seen from above  in the hangar at Cape Canaveral.
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, as seen from above, in the hangar at Cape Canaveral.
This left SpaceX hanging in the wind. SpaceX was supposed to secure the Falcon Heavy to the launch pad and fire its booster rockets for a few seconds today, according to CNET. But Congress' failure to fund the day-to-day operations of the government means the US Air Force is now short-staffed.
SpaceX originally thought the shutdown wouldn't affect their testing. However, John Taylor, a SpaceX spokesperson, said in a statement to The Verge, “This shutdown impacts SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy demonstration, which is critical for future [national security space] missions."
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. If this were to happen, it will have far-reaching effects on future SpaceX flights that rely on Air Force personnel.
Falcon Heavy on the launch pad.
Falcon Heavy on the launch pad.
“[The shutdown] also impacts critical missions for our customers, including important international allies, scheduled to launch shortly from Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base, as well as upcoming missions this spring to resupply the International Space Station," Taylor said.
The Senate was scheduled to vote on reopening the government today at noon, ET. However, as this story is being written, lawmakers are still talking about the spending bill. If the vote does go through, maybe SpaceX will be able to get back to normal operations.
"We remain hopeful that the Congress will quickly resolve their differences and put our partners in the Air Force and NASA back to doing their important work as soon as possible," SpaceX told CNET via email.
More about Spacex, falcon heavy rocket, static test fire, government shutdown, Delays
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