A day of scrubs: No flights today for SpaceX, Blue Origin, Arianespace or ULA – UPDATE
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Today wasn’t the most productive for Arianespace, SpaceX, Blue Origin or ULA. Attempts to launch separate missions all ended with the rockets and their payloads safe – but still on the ground.
SpaceX had a Falcon 9 rocket set poised and ready (with the Vice-President of the United States watching from nearby) to launch but an “out of family” sensor reading on the rocket’s first stage prompted mission managers to call of today’s (Dec. 18, 2018) attempt to send the GPS SV01 (Vespucci) navigational satellite.
Vice-President Pence was at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to watch this morning’s flight and made remarks following the scrubbed attempt.
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 will now undergo preparations to try again tomorrow. SpaceX has stated that the earliest that they will attempt to get the payload on its way to orbit will be on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018 at 9:07 a.m. EST (14:07 GMT).
Meanwhile, out in Van Horn, Texas – Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin was having problems of its own. The company’s New Shepard launch vehicle had been packed, racked (with a NASA payload) and stacked in preparation for a 9:30 a.m. EST (14:30 GMT) flight. However, a ground infrastructure issue resulted in that mission being delayed as well.
If that wasn’t enough, the launch of an Arianespace Soyuz-ST-A rocket with the French CSO-1 defense satellite was also delayed (for 24 hours). The day of scrubs wasn’t over with CSO-1 however.
The fourth, and final, launch attempt of the day that of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with the NROL-71 payload for the National Reconnaissance Office – has scrubbed. Scheduled for 5:57 p.m. PST was called due to high ground winds. Colorado-based ULA issued the following statement:
The next launch attempt is planned for Wed., Dec. 19, from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The forecast indicates an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The targeted launch time is 5:44 p.m. PST.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.