SpaceX scrubs Falcon 9 launch 2nd day in a row
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — For the second day in a row, SpaceX has scrubbed the planned liftoff of its Falcon 9 rocket with the Intelsat 35e communications satellite. Like the July 2 attempt, this scrub was also for technical reasons.
SpaceX had planned to fly the Falcon 9 at 7:37 p.m. EDT (23:37 GMT), the opening of the 58-minute launch window. However, about an hour before the planned liftoff, the launch director decided to postpone the launch to 7:52 p.m. EDT (23:52 GMT), then to 8:07 p.m. EDT (00:07 GMT July 4), and finally to 8:35 p.m. EDT (00:35 GMT July 4).
The weather did not look to be cooperating. Storms to the west of the Space Coast began developing and migrating toward the space center. Regardless, SpaceX pressed forward with loading fuel into the rocket one hour before its new liftoff time. Over the next hour, the storms finally dissipated and moved away.
Aside from the weather postponements, the countdown went smoothly and quietly up until T-minus 10 seconds when the onboard flight computer triggered a hold, just like it did the day before. At the time of publication, SpaceX had not yet determined the cause for the automatic abort. However, it did note the reason for the July 2 scrub: an out of criteria reading on a Guidance, Navigation, and Control sensor on ground support equipment was solved. It is unclear if this is related.
Standing down today due to a violation of abort criteria, vehicle/payload in good health, next launch opportunity tomorrow, July 4th!
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 4, 2017
SpaceX has booked the Eastern Range for July 4, the U.S. Independence Day holiday. If it flies then, it will be the first time since the 2006 launch of Space Shuttle Discovery’s STS-121 mission that an American rocket has taken flight on that day.
Update: Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and CEO, tweeted that the company would spend July 4 doing a full review of the rocket and pad systems. Liftoff is now no earlier than July 5 or July 6.
This mission is utilizing an expandable Falcon 9 rocket to send the 14,905-pound (6,761-kilogram) Intelsat 35e satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit. This rocket will not be recovered as the spacecraft is too massive to allow for a successful first stage landing downrange.
Intelsat 35e will be the fourth EpicNG satellite to be placed into orbit. It will service parts of the Americas, Europe, and Africa from a geostationary orbital slot of 34.5 degrees West longitude.
Built on Boeing’s 702MP bus, the satellite sports C-and Ku-band transmitters that will be powered by two solar wings generating between 6 kilowatts and 12 kilowatts of electricity. It has a projected lifespan of 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.