SpaceX AsiaSat 6 launch scrubbed – UPDATE
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — Tonight’s planned launch of the AsiaSat 6 satellite by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX ) has been scrubbed, with no new launch date provided. SpaceX has since issued a statement that the Aug. 22 accident, which saw the loss of a Falcon 9 Reusable test article, was not the cause for this delay.
Liftoff was originally scheduled for August 26, 12:50 a.m. EDT (0450 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) located in Florida. It slipped to August 27, 12:50 a.m. EDT, due to the recent in-flight failure of the Falcon 9 Reusable test article, and has now been delayed again. SpaceX had already requested August 28 as an additional backup date, but so far, the new launch date is still TBA.
The cause of the delay has been suggested as a potential leak with the F9’s upper stage, but engineers within the company have remained mum only stating that they wanted more time to review the situation before moving ahead with a new launch date. SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk issued the following statement several hours after the scrub was called:
“SpaceX has decided to postpone tomorrow’s flight of AsiaSat 6. We are not aware of any issue with Falcon 9, nor the interfaces with the Spacecraft, but have decided to review all potential failure modes and contingencies again. We expect to complete this process in one to two weeks.
The natural question is whether this is related to the test vehicle malfunction at our development facility in Texas last week. After a thorough review, we are confident that there is no direct link. Had the same blocked sensor port problem occurred with an operational Falcon 9, it would have been outvoted by several other sensors. That voting system was not present on the test vehicle.
What we do want to triple-check is whether even highly improbable corner case scenarios have the optimal fault detection and recovery logic. This has already been reviewed by SpaceX and multiple outside agencies, so the most likely outcome is no change. If any changes are made, we will provide as much detail as is allowed under U.S. law.”
Given the nature of Musk’s comments, it is unclear at present what impact, if any, this will have on the planned Sept. 19 launch of a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft carrying out the Commercial Resupply Services 4 flight to the International Space Station on behalf of NASA. If so, this issue could also see the next launch of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares booster and Cygnus cargo vessel either slip – or be moved up. Stay tuned to SpaceFlight Insider as details are made available.
This article was edited at 12:22 a.m. EDT on Sept. 3 at 3:18 p.m. EDT to reflect the current information
Rae Botsford End is a freelance writer and editor whose primary work currently is writing technical white papers, contributing to SFI, and working on a speculative fiction novel that she hopes to have published soon. Rae wanted an opportunity to report on the various space-related events in and around Florida's Space Coast and approached SFI's founder about the possibility. Rae now covers an array of subjects for our growing website.