SpaceX test-fires Falcon 9 rocket for Sunday launch from Florida

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A Falcon 9 rocket test-fired its nine Merlin main engines at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) Saturday in preparation for the Starlink 4-25 mission. Credit: Spaceflight Now

SpaceX test-fired a Falcon 9 rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Saturday in preparation for liftoff Sunday with the company’s next batch of Starlink internet satellites.

Test-firings on the launch pad were once a customary part of every SpaceX launch campaign, but the company is phasing out the static fire tests for most missions as the Falcon 9 launch cadence has ramped up to an average of one flight per week.

The rocket’s nine Merlin engines fired for about seven seconds at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) Saturday while hold-down clamps keep the Falcon 9 firmly on the ground at pad 39A.

The Falcon 9 is set to lift off Sunday at 9:38 a.m. EDT (1338 GMT) with 53 Starlink internet satellites, marking SpaceX’s 33rd launch of the year, and the 53rd dedicated launch for the Starlink network.

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