Stand Back — Live SpaceX Falcon I Blogging Here

I couldn’t say it any better myself so I’m just pulling the report from SpaceX own website.
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The SpaceX launch scrubbed today. We anticipate a new launch attempt in mid-December, depending on the timing of LOX resupply from Hawaii (our LOX plant on Omelek can only produce about one ton per day). As SpaceX CEO Elon Musk stated during a pre-launch press conference, the likelihood of an all new rocket launching from an all new launch pad on its first attempt is low.

The reason for the delay was an auxiliary liquid oxygen (LOX) fill tank had a manual vent valve incorrectly set to vent. The time it took to correct the problem resulted in significant LOX boiloff and loss of helium, and it was the latter that caused the launch abort. LOX is used to chill the helium bottles, so we lose helium if there is no LOX to cool the bottles.

Although we were eventually able to refill the vehicle LOX tanks, the rate at which we could add helium was slower than the rate at which LOX was boiling away. There was no way to close the gap, so the launch had to be called off. In addition, we experienced an anomaly with the main engine computer that requires further investigation and was arguably reason in and of itself to postpone launch.
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All things considered, when a new launch date is firmed up I’ll most likely return to the mad adventures of live blogging so stay tuned, this young bird will fly yet.


(Refresh this page often, something might happen.)

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The final word on today’s launch attempt from SpaceX:

The SpaceX launch scrubbed today. We anticipate a new launch attempt in mid-December, depending on the timing of LOX resupply from Hawaii (our LOX plant on Omelek can only produce about one ton per day). As SpaceX CEO Elon Musk stated during a pre-launch press conference, the likelihood of an all new rocket launching from an all new launch pad on its first attempt is low.
The reason for the delay was an auxiliary liquid oxygen (LOX) fill tank had a manual vent valve incorrectly set to vent. The time it took to correct the problem resulted in significant LOX boiloff and loss of helium, and it was the latter that caused the launch abort. LOX is used to chill the helium bottles, so we lose helium if there is no LOX to cool the bottles.

Although we were eventually able to refill the vehicle LOX tanks, the rate at which we could add helium was slower than the rate at which LOX was boiling away. There was no way to close the gap, so the launch had to be called off. In addition, we experienced an anomaly with the main engine computer that requires further investigation and was arguably reason in and of itself to postpone launch.

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5:21 pm (pst)

Strong winds and some troubles with the LOX refueling tanks have forced the scrubbing of today’s launch. The attempt has been rescheduled for sometime in the am Sunday.

As they get the time pinned down closer an announcement will be posted on SpaceX.com

I will try to resume my live blogging as we get more info.

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4:15 pm (pst)

The conference line is down for 30-45 minutes, so I’m taking this opportunity to put a dent in my left-over turkey.

Back shortly before 5:00 (pst)

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4:01 pm (pst)

The extension is officially moved from the previous 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm (pst)

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3:56 pm (pst)

It appears they intend to extend the launch window, to try and get the launch in yet today. Possibly as early as 5:00 pm (pst)

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3:44 pm (pst)

Still in the 1 and a half to 2 hour refilling LOX delay

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3:24 pm (pst)

If need be there is a bit of wiggle-room in the launch window, possibly an extension of an hour might happen.

Filling or repair/adjustment – adjustment – issues with required upper stage pressurization. Currently if launch doesn’t go today, would go at 1:00pm tomorrow (pst?)

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3:15 pm (pst)

Video feed is doing a variety of scenes of the island locations.
Still no firm up date on the countdown resumption.

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2:59pm (pst)

They need to check valves on the LOX fill tanks and then clear the area restarting the countdown in 1 and a half to two hours.
What been driving the delays? weather? equip?
Weather at one point – then lox – no other
Boiloff of mechanical – doesn’t know
3 camera crews at launch site, waiting
Anyone streaming live – not sure
Possible further update coming?

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2:44pm (pst)

An announcement from Elon Musk on the island within a couple minutes

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2:41pm (pst)

delay – crew need to return to top off lox tank 1-2 hour delay.
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2:33pm (pst)

Still no word on continuing the countdown, there was some mention of topping off the LOX tanks, which may have been needed due to boil-off, that was not an official announcement however.

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2:05pm (pst)

More background as we wait… This maiden flight will take place from the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands. The customer for this mission is DARPA and the Air Force and the payload will be FalconSat-2, part of the Air Force Academy’s satellite program that will measure space plasma phenomena, which can adversely affect space-based communications, including GPS and other civil and military communications. The target orbit is 400 km X 500 km (just above the International Space Station) at an inclination of 39 degrees.

We are a little under half way through the launch window which is 1 – 5 p.m. (PST).
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2:05pm (pst)

Although we have no definitive word on why the delay, lightning generated by the passing of the rocket through the storm clouds can be a major worry for the avionics of the launch vehicle. Hence the possible reason for the delay.

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1:55pm (pst)

The weather related hold doesn’t appear to be of a long duration
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1:50pm (pst)

At T-10 a hold for weather – doesn’t look like very ominous from the video feed

Not believed the weather was the issue with the first hold

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1:42pm (pst)

T-20 and counting, and the tower is about be lowered,
2:10 pm launch time now
Still no word on the cause of the delay

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1:39pm (pst)

Still no new word at this point

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1:26pm (pst)

No new word at this point

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1:16pm (pst)

Dianne Molina — Media & Marketing Manager is working on getting word from Kwajalein

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1:06pm (pst)

We are waiting on word regarding the nature of the delay and at what point in the countdown the delay occurred.

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12:59pm (pst)

Offically they went into an one hour delay some where iunder t-5 mins.

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12:54pm (pst)

T-5 mins.
“looking good right now for 1pm”
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12:52pm (pst)

No indication of delays at T-10 mins
Working on getting us a live feed of audio from the launch site

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12:45 pm (pst)

Weather forecast slightly overcast another update coming before 1:00 pm (pst)

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12:43 pm (pst)

Larry Williams Vice President in charge of international Government Affairs, is monitoring the conference from California, he will be feeding us the data as it happens and answer questions

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12:31 pm (pst)

Quite a muddle going on as they sort everyone out on site

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12:25 pm (pst)

Currently fueling stage two LOX tanks

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12:23 pm (pst)

Currently 11 mins into a hold

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12:21 pm (pst)

Sound checks and what have you…

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A predawn look at Falcon I on the launchpad

A predawn look at Falcon I on the launchpad

12:15 pm (pst)

“we are still holding” — please continue to hold…

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12:01 pm (pst)

“your conference will begin momentarily” — please continue to hold…

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11:22 am (pst)

Stealing some background from SpaceX website, the flight will be the first privately developed, liquid fueled rocket to reach orbit and the world’s first all new orbital rocket in over a decade.

The main engine of Falcon 1 (Merlin) will be the first all new American hydrocarbon booster engine to be flown in forty years and only the second new American booster engine of any kind in twenty-five years.

The Falcon 1 is the only rocket flying 21st century avionics, which require a small fraction of the power and mass of other systems.

It will be the world’s only semi-reusable orbital rocket apart from the Shuttle (all other launch vehicles are completely expendable).

Most importantly, Falcon 1, priced at $6.7 million, will provide the lowest cost per flight to orbit of any launch vehicle in the world, despite receiving a design reliability rating equivalent to that of the best launch vehicles currently flying in the United States.

That price tag includes payload insurance, range fees, the whole works.

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