A Day in the Life of a Hot Fire, Part Two: Caravan

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The XCOR caravan makes its way past the “bone yard” for another hot fire.

Yesterday we went through initial morning activities that surround the day of a hot fire test, rolled out the flight weight fuselage and engine truss. We started to fuel LOX and kerosene around 7AM.

Cut to two hours later…

Around 9AM, after the kerosene and LOX fill is complete, and after running through check lists and various pre-rollout processes, we tow the engine test stand and truss out to the XCOR Test Bunker on the other side of the Mojave Air and Space Port.

The caravan of vehicles include the F-150 pickup truck with which we tow the test stand, a Hummer we use to tow the gas bottle trailer (a rolling stand filled with high pressure gases, such as helium and nitrogen, which we use for tests), and up to two more vehicles holding additional crew and equipment.

We cross the runways and taxiways of the Mojave Air and Space Port, past the “bone yard” of old aircraft, then into an area populated by numerous test sites for many of the space port tenants.

Because we travel within the boundaries of the airport and cross active taxiways and runways, we must have aviation radios and follow specific operational and communication procedures prior to departure, during movement, and upon leaving the active flight line. We pre-coordinate test activities with the local space port staff and first responders so they are fully aware of the planned activities and can, if they wish, monitor our activities in real time.

Tomorrow – What happens when we arrive at the test stand?