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Space X launch scrubbed.



--- Quote ---Space X launch aborted after engine problem
Engineers aborted the launch of a privately built spacecraft on a landmark mission to the International Space Station at the last second yesterday due to a rocket engine problem.

The California-based company Space X scrubbed the launch of its Dragon capsule a half-second before liftoff after an engine controller noted high pressure in the centre engine of the Falcon 9 rocket, forcing the shutdown.

“This is not failure. We aborted with purpose. It would be a failure if we were to have lifted off with an engine trending in this direction,” Space X president Gwynne Shot­well told reporters.

All nine engines are required for a successful liftoff.

Elevated temperatures could have caused the high pressure in engine five, possibly from too little fuel flowing into it, though it is too early to know for certain. “We’re going to have to spend more time looking at the data,” Shotwell said.

While Space X has a next launch opportunity on Tuesday at 8.44 a.m., the date of the next attempt will remain uncertain until inspectors determine the root cause of the engine problem.

Another launch window opens up on Wednesday at 8.22 a.m.

A team of technicians will not be able to begin inspecting the defective engine until midday, when they can access the rocket, and Shotwell warned it could take several days to replace it.

A similar issue with engine five forced a temporary delay of the Falcon 9’s first-ever flight, but that liftoff was not scrubbed because there was a longer launch window and Space X was able to renew the attempt, Shotwell said. However, this time there was a very narrow window of opportunity to launch toward the ISS so the attempt was put off entirely.

“We will be out there looking for whatever we can find and we will put out a statement as soon as we find a root cause,” Shotwell said, adding that early indications have ruled out a sensor failure or a faulty fuel valve.

NASA urged patience for what would mark the first attempt to send a privately built spacecraft to the orbiting research outpost.

“We’re ready to support when Space X is ready to go,” said Alan Lindenmoyer, NASA’s manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program.

Space X is the first of several US competitors to try sending its own cargo-bearing spacecraft to the ISS with the goal of restoring US access to space for human travellers by 2015.

--- End quote ---

"Not a failure" but not exactly a success either.  The merlin engine has had a history of problems (liquid engines are finicky to begin with).  But, this is an excellent example of why they full fire before liftoff, to make sure it's all working before the point of no return.  Supposedly this rocket is built to survive an engine failure anyway, who knows. 

Buster's Uncle:
I suppose it's better that they're being careful at this stage...

Yes, it would be a disaster if they actually fail, as in the rocket crashes.  We don't have much of a 'plan B' at this point re: US space flight.  The others are minimum 2 years out. 

Anyhow launch is now scheduled for 3:45 tomorrow morning EDT.  I won't be up at that time (2 AM for me), so will check in tomorrow on how it did. 

Interesting side note, these have been night launch windows (a relative rarity, historically), I'll lay odds specifically designed for better pictures/press/promotional material. 


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