Onlookers at a safe distance away were treated to a view of the test-fire as nine Merlin 1 engines ignited and throttled up to nearly two million pounds of thrust at 4:30 p.m. EST (2130 GMT) during the brief hold-down firing of the Falcon 9 rocket.
A thick plume of visible venting of super-chilled liquid oxygen vapors rose out of the flame pit at the 39A Launch Complex, marking the first time the launch site had been used since the last space shuttle mission blasted off from the site on July 8, 2011. The launch site sat vacant until SpaceX signed a 20-year lease in 2014.
NASA launched 12 Saturn 5 rockets from pad 39A during the Apollo moon program, including Apollo 11 — and 82 shuttle flights departed from the launch complex. "This is the same launch pad used by the Saturn V rocket that first took people to the moon in 1969. We are honored to be allowed to use it," Musk wrote, according to Seeker
A second shuttle pad, 39B is being retained by NASA for its heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket. SpaceX's new launch pad is located just north of its Launch Complex 40 which was heavily damaged on September 1, 2016, during the botched Falcon 9 engine test-fire.
Because of the damages to Complex 40, SpaceX has decided to expand the use of its new launch site to include all its launches from the East Coast. SpaceX also has a launch facility at Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base
, near Los Angeles.
Now that the test-firing of the Falcon 9 engines is complete, ArsTechnica
is reporting that SpaceX is moving forward with the launch of its 12th Dragon spacecraft and its 10th cargo delivery mission to the ISS. Dragon will carry two tons of pressurized cargo and one ton of unpressurized cargo to the station with the launch expected to go off at no earlier than 10:01 a.m. ET, Saturday the 18th.