Weather wins as SpaceX scrubs launch of Falcon 9 with EchoStar 23
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket remained firmly attached to the launch mount as the weather did not want to cooperate. Liftoff was targeted for the beginning of a 2.5-hour long launch window that opened at 1:34 a.m. EDT (05:34 GMT) March 14.
Throughout most of the countdown, thick and anvil cloud rules were observed “no go.” Things began to improve as the clocked ticked down to zero. However, at about 35 minutes before the launch window was to open, SpaceX called off the flight due to high winds.
Standing down due to high winds; working toward next available launch opportunity.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 14, 2017
The Falcon 9 has another opportunity to send the EchoStar 23 satellite to space in the early morning hours of March 16. That 2.5-hour launch window will open at 1:35 a.m. EDT (05:35 GMT). If attempted, weather is expected to improve to a 90 percent chance of favorable conditions with the only concern that morning being strong winds at liftoff.
Aside from weather, it was a smooth countdown. Loading of rocket grade kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen began on time at 70 minutes and 45 minutes respectively before the expected launch time.
When it does launch, it will be the second Falcon 9 to leave Terra firma from historic Launch Complex 39A. Back in February, the CRS-10 mission left for the International Space Station from this location.
This will be one of the last planned expendable versions of the booster. As the SSL-built EchoStar 23 satellite is heavy enough and will be placed into a high-energy geostationary transfer orbit, it will need as much fuel as possible.
Once the spacecraft is in space and separates from the booster, it will begin to circularize itself at an altitude of 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers) in a geostationary orbit hovering over South America. There it will begin to supply Brazil with television services. The spacecraft is expected to have a nominal 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.