On Thursday afternoon, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SpaceX performed a hot-fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket that will fly its first commercial crew demonstration mission. This flight will not carry crew members but will serve as a test of the launch system, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the company’s ability to dock the vehicle safely with the International Space Station.
More than two hours after the 4pm ET test—in which the rocket’s first stage engines are fired for several seconds to simulate liftoff while the rocket is clamped down—SpaceX had yet to confirm whether the test was successful. Some early reports indicated the test did not undergo a full firing, which may or may not be a problem.
Thursday’s act of firing the rocket, which will now be returned from the launchpad to SpaceX’s Horizontal Integration Facility at the company’s Florida site, nevertheless represents a significant step forward for SpaceX and NASA.