December 2, 2013
SpaceX Hoping For Success On Third Attempt To Launch Falcon 9
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Update: Monday, Dec 2, 2013 (9:10 a.m.)
SpaceX has once again opened a launch window to put an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket along with its SES-8 satellite payload into space. The next scheduled attempt will take place this evening -- Dec 2, 2013.
Last Thursday, after the space transport company’s second scrubbed launch attempt, officials said it would likely be a few days before another launch window would open for the innovative, yet challenging mission to take place.
An official blog on the SpaceX website on Sunday said Thursday’s scrubbed attempt was due to “oxygen in the ground side igniter fluid (TEA-TEB).”
“Rocket engines are healthy, but cleaning turbopump gas generators will take another day. Earliest possible launch attempt is Monday evening,” the blog said.
With that problem now out of the way, it is looking good for a successful launch later today.
Stay tuned for further updates.
Main Story: Friday, Nov 29, 2013 (6:44 a.m.)
On Monday, Nov 25, 2013 SpaceX was preparing to launch an SES-8 telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit, which was deemed the space transport company’s most challenging mission to date.
But after a technical glitch was discovered during three attempted maneuvers, SpaceX called off the launch and subsequently opened up a new launch opportunity for Nov 28, 2013. On Thursday, while many were home enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, SpaceX was busy once again trying to put its Falcon 9 and its SES-8 payload into space.
However, once again, co-founder and CEO Elon Musk’s space firm had to scrub the launch moments before lift-off. The Cape Canaveral, Florida launch was halted due to what Musk described as “slower than expected thrust ramp.”
“We called manual abort. Better to be paranoid and wrong. Bringing rocket down to borescope engines ...” Musk said on Twitter.
“Launch scrubbed for today. Team bringing rocket down to take a closer look at the engines. Likely a few days before next attempt,” SpaceX also noted in an update on its webcast page.
After the launch was called off at 6:44 p.m. EST, engineers brought Falcon 9 down from the launch pad and returned it to its hangar at Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 40 for further inspection. While officials said they would attempt a launch again in a few days, no official date has been set.
The new rocket is an upgraded version of the Falcon 9 – version 1.1 – that has only flown once before, during a September test flight in California. Although that launch was called a success, an optional restart of the rocket’s upper stage engine, which will be necessary for the latest mission, failed to activate.
If and when SpaceX does get to launch the new rocket, it will be the company’s first attempt at putting a commercial satellite into orbit. Currently Europe and Russia hold the market on satellite launches, with most being carried into orbit by Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket or Russia Soyuz.
SpaceX has already proven itself as a viable transporter of cargo to the International Space Station, but a successful satellite launch would open up several new opportunities for the novel space transport company. SpaceX has been contracted by NASA to ship supplies to the ISS via its reusable Dragon capsule over 12 scheduled launches; SpaceX has so far completed two of those missions.