SpaceX tests new engine in Texas

June 26, 2012 at 5:52 PM

MCGREGOR, Texas, June 26 (UPI) -- U.S. commercial space company SpaceX says it has successfully tested the next-generation rocket engine for its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.

In a test firing at SpaceX's facility in McGregor, Texas, the Merlin 1D engine achieved a full mission duration firing and multiple restarts at target thrust, the company reported Tuesday.

The engine fired for 85 seconds with 147,000 pounds of thrust, the full duration and power required for a Falcon 9 rocket launch, SpaceX said.

"This is another important milestone in our efforts to push the boundaries of space technology," SpaceX head Elon Musk said . "With the Merlin 1D powering the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, SpaceX will be capable of carrying a full range of payloads to orbit."

With nine Merlins on the first stage, the Falcon 9 rocket will produce nearly 1.5 million pounds of thrust, the company said.

The Merlin 1D engines will first see their first use on Falcon 9 Flight 6, expected to launch in 2013, it said.

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