One Hour until Launch

The 157-foot-tall Falcon 9 was lifted to vertical last night. The strongback – a gantry-like tower providing support and umbilicals – is in place beside it at Space Launch Complex 40. The strongback will be lowered late in the countdown to clear the way for the departing rocket.

At this time, both the rocket and spacecraft are powered. The Falcon 9’s nine first-stage Merlin 1D engines and single second-stage Merlin vacuum engine are powered by liquid oxygen (LOX) and a refined kerosene fuel called RP-1. Loading of RP-1 began at 1:47 a.m., followed by the start of LOX loading at 2:12. As the cryogenic liquid oxygen warms up, some of it boils off as gaseous oxygen and is vented away from the rocket during the countdown. Topping-off of liquid oxygen will continue until late in the countdown, replacing what boils away.

This flight will be the 14th for the Falcon 9, a rocket named after the famed Millennium Falcon in Star Wars. No word on whether the Falcon 9 has made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.

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