SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scrubbed due to ‘tiny glitch’
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX scrubbed the launch of Thaicom 8 atop a Falcon 9 rocket today, May 26, due to what the company founder, Elon Musk, called a “tiny glitch”. The company will try again tomorrow (Friday) May 27 at the same time—5:40 p.m. EDT (21:40 GMT).
“Probably not a flight risk, but still worth investigating,” Elon Musk, SpaceX’s CEO and founder tweeted regarding an upper stage engine actuator glitch.
@SpaceX There was a tiny glitch in the motion of an upper stage engine actuator. Probably not a flight risk, but still worth investigating.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 26, 2016
The weather was predicted to be 90 percent favorable. The sky was clear with scattered clouds here and there—nearly perfect for a launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 40. However, because of the small glitch, which turned up about 20 minutes before the initial launch time at 5:40 p.m. EDT (21:40 GMT), fueling loading and, therefore, the launch was delayed to the end of the two-hour launch window to give SpaceX engineers time to assess the problem.
Then, just after 6 p.m. EDT (22:00 GMT May 27), the launch was called off in order to give even more time for engineers to investigate.
Right now, the company is targeting the same launch time for no earlier than Friday, May 27. Weather is expected to worsen to 40 percent chance of favorable weather. Additionally, there is a tropical disturbance in the Atlantic Ocean that has an 80 percent chance of forming into a tropical or sub-tropical cyclone within the next 24 to 48 hours. While it isn’t expected to make landfall in Florida, it will disrupt weather patterns next week.
When it does launch, Thaicom 8 will be placed into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) and, using its own onboard engines, will gradually increase perigee to a make a circular 22,300-mile (35,888-kilometer) orbit above the equator. There, the spacecraft will provide TV and Internet services to India, Thailand, and parts of Africa. The satellite will reside at the 78.5 degrees East longitude and carry a Ku-band payload of 24 active transponders.
Orbital ATK was selected by Thaicom PLC to build the spacecraft, which has a mass of about 6,834 pounds (3,100 kilograms). It is based on the flight-proven GEOStar-2 satellite platform. Using two solar panels, the vehicle will be provided with at least 5.0 kilowatts of power and is expected to have an operational life of at least 15 years.
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.