The government shutdown is delaying SpaceX's Falcon Heavy test and other launches

SpaceX Can't Perform Its Falcon Heavy Test Fire Because of the Government Shutdown

US government shutdown ruins SpaceX plans for a Falcon Heavy test fire

The test will require support from the 45th Space Wing, which operates Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and provides launch support for the nearby NASA Kennedy Space Center.

SpaceX confirmed that the static fire test will be affected by the United States government shutdown, and will not take place until operations have resumed with the government.

The 230-foot-tall Falcon Heavy rocket sitting on launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center has been fueled at least twice by SpaceX teams ahead of the static-fire test, and undisclosed delays held up the testing. SpaceX was supposed to secure the Falcon Heavy to the launch pad and fire its booster rockets for a few seconds today, according to CNET.

"There's a lot of risk associated with the Falcon Heavy, a real good chance that vehicle does not make it to orbit", Musk famously told scientists at a conference in 2017.

The Falcon Heavy is undoubtedly SpaceX's biggest challenge to date, and even Elon Musk has been extremely careful to manage expectations.

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SpaceX was hoping to launch the Falcon Heavy by the end of January, but it appears that schedule has been pushed back further. While a federal shutdown lasting several days is a hugely disruptive and damaging event on its own, lack of range support on the East coast could quickly begin to eat into SpaceX's GovSat-1 preparations, the launch of which is targeting NET late January/January 30.

Today, however, SpaceX confirmed the launch will halt the static fire. As a result, in the somewhat unlikely event that the shutdown stretches beyond the next several days, SpaceX customers SES and GovSat could see their launch delayed, an event that would likely bring financial consequences to the public-private satellite venture.

This static fire is an essential pre-launch trial of the Falcon Heavy, which is the world's most powerful operational rocket.

Government shutdowns are never a particularly pleasant experience.

"Due to the shutdown removing key members of the civilian workforce, the 45th Space Wing will not be able to support commercial static fires taking place on KSC", an Air Force spokesperson said in a statement provided to Aviation Week. If this were to happen, it will have far-reaching effects on future SpaceX flights that rely on Air Force personnel. The Senate is scheduled to vote at 1pm ET on Monday to end the shutdown and fund the government for three weeks, CNN reports.

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