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Before that day comes, though, the spacecraft has to undergo some tests of its own. With a spacecraft assembled, it will be taken to another clean room (in the case of ESA, for example, this is the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, while NASA has test facilities within the SAF). The spacecraft will be put through a variety of simulations, from shaking it to experimenting with acoustics vibrations in an acoustics chamber. This is important because launch vehicles are very noisy and produce a lot of acoustic energy, particularly close to the ground in the first few seconds of the mission.

50 Powering on the payload The second stage will now kick in, its single engine powering for 375 seconds until the booster depletes and the payload is released. Touching down The rocket uses a timely landing burn and extends its landing feet, keeping straight and slowing down to land safely on the drone ship platform on the ocean surface. com User Manual Falcon Heavy into the central core from the other two boosters to give the whole rocket that extra kick. That’s not to say the Falcon Heavy has been free of complications on the final leg of its road to launch, with some revisions of the Falcon 9 design forcing SpaceX to delay the latest launch date to the middle of 2016.

We expose a satellite in its launch configuration to a very high sound level, like it would see during launch from the rocket, to demonstrate if the satellite connection will survive the environment,” explains Brown. “Some satellites will also go through separation tests, which simulate and put stresses and forces and loads into the spacecraft, just as it would as it's being lifted off and launched. ” Testing takes a few months, with the engineers keenly watching the time so that the launch date doesn’t slip (celestial mechanics don’t make for flexible delivery dates – miss a launch window to Mars and it’ll be two years before the next opportunity comes along).

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