SpaceX Performs Firing and Restart of Draco Thruster
[Satellite Today 12-10-08] Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) performed a long-duration firing and restart of its smallest rocket engine, dubbed Draco, SpaceX announced Dec. 9.
SpaceX fired the engine continuously for 10 minutes in a vacuum test chamber. After a 10-minute thermal soak period, Draco was restarted for an additional minute, simulating its typical use in space. The test marks the longest firing of the thruster as well as the longest test on the vacuum test stand, built by SpaceX and put into operation in March.
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will use 18 Draco thrusters for maneuvering, attitude control and to initiate the capsule’s return to Earth.
"The Draco engines are as important to Dragon as the large Merlin engines are to Falcon 9," Tom Mueller, vice president of propulsion at SpaceX, said in a statement. "They will perform essential maneuvers as the SpaceX Dragon approaches and berths with the International Space Station."
The first Dragon spacecraft is scheduled for flight in 2009 aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from the SpaceX launch site at Cape Canaveral, Fla.