Sunday evening was scheduled to be SpaceX’s third attempt at its second launch of the year. However, a series of set backs led to an ultimate abort for the evening.
It was definitely a close call. The countdown clock actually reached T-00:00:00 and the rocket looked like it was about to lift off at 7:21 p.m. ET, when all of the sudden the computer in control of the rocket shut the engines down. Here’s what an abort at the very last second looks like:
Despite Sunday evening’s scrub, SpaceX reported that its Falcon 9 rocket is still healthy.
The rocket’s internal computer takes control of the launch sequence with 1 minute to go before every SpaceX launch. During that time, it analyses the fuel, the engines, and other aspects fo the rocket to make sure everything is functioning properly
This is a standard safety procedure.
According to SpaceX founder and CEO, Elon Musk, the trouble was with the rocket’s fuel temperatures:
SpaceX began using a new kind of fuel with its upgraded Falcon 9 rockets last December. The rockets now run on deep cryo liquid oxygen (LOX).
This fuel has the benefit of being more dense than other rocket propellants, so you can pack more of it into rocket fuel tanks — which adds to its power — but the trade-off is that you have to chill it at -340 degrees Fahrenheit.
A few minutes before the initial launch time of 6:46 p.m. ET, SpaceX held the launch because a boat has strayed too close and was in the danger zone. In the 40 or so minutes between waiting for the boat to move, it appears that fuel temperatures rose, which triggered an abort by the rocket’s internal computer.
SpaceX has not established another launch date to try again.
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