You might have already heard about SpaceX’s newest spacecraft, the Grasshopper, which is currently in its testing phases. However, the engine that’s powering the new rocket has gotten final approval for flight. The Merlin 1D engine has completed all of its testing and is ready to take to the skies later this year.
SpaceX has announced that the Merlin 1D has achieved flight qualification status, which the company says is a “major milestone” for the next-generation Merlin engine. The engine had to go through 28 different tests, and it accumulated 1,970 seconds of total test time (just under 33 minutes), which SpaceX says is the equivalent run time of “over 10 full mission durations.”
The engine is now fully qualified to power the Falcon 9 rocket, which is the rocket that has taken the Dragon capsule up to the International Space Station several times now. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says that the company plans to equip the Falcon 9 with Merlin 1D engines sometime this year during another resupply mission to the ISS.
The Merlin 1D is equipped on SpaceX’s Grasshopper rocket, which was recently demonstrated on video hovering over the ground and then safely landing on the tarmac. The rocket was able to hover just over 260 feet above the ground, which is over the twice the distance that the rocket was able to achieve back in December.