SpaceX launch set for 5:05 Pacific

By Phil Plait | March 20, 2007 3:15 pm

Update (7:00 p.m. Pacific time): Well, that’ll teach me to go to dinner! A few minutes after the abort, the folks at SpaceX figured out what happened: sensors said the fuel was too cold. Well, that’s enough to fix. They waited a little while! A phone call interrupted my dinner: a friend was telling me the launch was two minutes ago! Figures. Evidently, the second reached 300 km, which was the objective, but (for reasons I don’t yet know) it re-entered the atmosphere. According to Space Pragmatism, Elon Musk (head of SpaceX) said that 90% of the goals were achieved, so this was an excellent day for the company.

My congrats to the whole team!

Update (5:07 p.m. Pacific time): NUTS. Aborted. I’ll have more info later.

OK, SpaceX has reset the launch of the Falcon 1 rocket for 5:05 Pacific time today (Tuesday). I have heard they are loading the liquid oxygen into the tanks right now. The weather looks good, too. Let’s hope they do it tonight!

Yesterday’s launch abort was due to a software glitch; nothing serious (it was a minor difference between how simulations are run and how real hardware behaves; a reality in testing that can be totally innocuous or can lose you your ship). They decided to take a day to breathe and make sure the fix was correct, and they are ready to go now — just an hour or so from when I write this.

Updates will be posted in this entry as I hear them.

Update 1 (4:29 p.m. Pacific time, T-37 minutes): NASASpaceFlight (not a NASA site) has a lot of info on this launch and the payload. Basically, the rocket is launching a package that provides information on how the rocket is performing. The second stage of the rocket will be placed into a low-Earth orbit, and they’ll be getting telemetry on it.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, NASA

Comments (33)

  1. bearcub

    T-10 minutes, so far so good. They just switched to internal power.

  2. bearcub

    Aborted at T-00!!! Damn.

  3. tonyx#

    what happened??? the screen just turned black.. is the rocket ok?

  4. TAW

    they’re going to recycle to T–11 minutes

  5. Sigma_Orionis

    $#”#%$&$/&&()/&! They had to Abort at T+00:00:01!

    I hope they can fix the problem

  6. MKR

    The video feed is extremely glitchy. D:

  7. TAW

    seems that they’re going to pick up at t-16… they said the new time, but I didn’t get it.

  8. bearcub

    They said 0054, I’m assuming that they’re referring to UTC, so that’s about 15 minutes from now.

  9. TAW

    Well, the countdown hasn’t started to that can’t be it. While we’re waiting, what happens to the string things attached (what are they anyway)? I didn’t see them come off, so does the rocket just rip them off or something?

  10. TAW

    Ah, nasaspaceflight says they new time is going to be 10 past the hour…. they should be starting the countdown at :54 then…

  11. tonyx#

    yeah, the video feed suckz, i hope thet while they are dealing with the rocket someone fixes the video, or else we are not gonna see a thing..

  12. bearcub

    Sorry TAW. I guess I wasn’t as clear as I should have been. The time I mentioned (00:54) was when they’re to start the new countdown. Which they’re into now.

    I believe that the cables and fuel lines come off as the rocket begins lift-off. With any luck, we’ll actually see that today. ;)

  13. Rosemary

    They’ve restrted the count at -16

  14. TAW
  15. Rosemary

    The engine eye view is amazing!

  16. bearcub

    Great view of the stage separation!

  17. slang

    Booo! cut vid signal just when it was getting interesting. Not interesting in a positive way unfortunately :( Didn’t like the instability of 2nd stage before vid got cut…

  18. Rosemary

    Wasn’t that brilliant! What was it that dropped away just after the separation? I saw some rings and then two triangular shaped objects just after.

  19. bearcub

    The triangles were the fairings that cover the payload in the nose. I’m not sure about the rings, but I think that they’re something along the lines of a gasket (for lack of the correct term) that separate the stages.

    Slang, I agree about the second stage. Those oscillations looked like they were getting a little stronger before vid was cut. Hopefully it won’t be/wasn’t anything disastrous for the flight.

  20. Buzz Parsec

    The video cut out at T+4:48, can’t reconnect.

    Rosemary, I think the 2 triangular objects were the payload fairing, which I noticed right after the voiceover said something about it being time to jetison it,
    about 30 seconds after staging.

    There seemed to be quite a bit of cyclical gyration in the camera vs. the engine just before the webcast cut off, but that might have just been the camera mounting being wobbly and not the engine or structure.

    No updates recently on the “update” page…

  21. bearcub

    Hey Phil, any word from your “sooper sekrit” source? Was the vid cutoff something expected, or A Bad Thing?

  22. Corey

    I also lost the feed right after fairing seperation. The webcast was Farked, and just got overwhelmed by the horde most likely, once it got interesting. I enjoyed the ground crew cheering after stage seperation!

  23. slang

    I don’t think the cut-off was expected.

    Buzz, the 2nd stage nozzle didn’t look all that stable from ignition. Just before the vid got cut the earth started spinning more and more in the view, while the location of the nozzle in the shot stayed more or less the same… IMHO it definately went out of control.

    This is just ‘gut-feel guesswork’, but it felt like something that should compensate for vibrations didn’t dampen them enough.. if that makes sense.. Been a while since I worked on PLC’s to do such type of dynamic work :) At least stage 1 seemed to worked well. Oh well, problems are there to learn from.

  24. Guys, detailed discussion and a press call transcript is available from the NASA SpaceFlight forums.

    They also have a downloadable video covering the launch from T-15:00 onwards in their L2 section (but that requires subscription).

  25. Rosemary

    From what I remember of the video (and knowing that collective/discussed memory is far from perfect) it seemed the 2nd stage was moving against the background, not the camera moving against the perspective of the second stage.

    Eagerly awaiting news of what happened next.

    Thanks for the explanations, everyone. That was an amazing experience to watch it live.

  26. Kaptain K

    Waaaaaaaaaaaaaugh!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Bigfoot

    I can’t believe nobody has yet pointed out the obvious flaw! It is stunningly clear to me that the Rube Goldberg launch trigger device failed to operate as expected when the balanced actuator egg failed to tip over to start the fuel heating sequence.

    How could they not have foreseen the tragic consequences of relying on such a finely honed contraption within two minutes of the equinox, which clearly lies almost directly in the middle the critical egg balance hoax window?

    Had they launched a mere day earlier or later, the egg would have certainly tipped on cue, and full success would have been at hand. Coincidence can be such a cruel foe.

    Here’s hoping for less senseless risk-taking and more salt-over-the-shoulder throwing for the next launch.

  28. icemith

    BA, my alert that a new posting was available occured at 20:38hours Aust. Eastern, = 09:38hrs UT (I think), = 02:38hrs Pacific. So ypu see we (sorry, I,) did not get the post until 9 and a half hours later.

    How did others fare?

    I don’t know if the fault lies with the system, and the delay is normal, or there is some slack in the system somewhere, or whatever. What I do know though is, that as Phil was posting the latest as it was happening, he can’t be blamed for that delay.

    I would loved to have been able to observe as others managed to, albeit a short and maybe not so sweet a show as was expected. I’m still confused as to the final result, but I guess I will have to wait another nine hours to find out. Unless there is something re-playing on NASA-TV, where I am going to see now. (Given my time now at 21 minutes past the hour, I’ll be interested to see the post time on the page.)

    Ivan.

  29. icemith

    An added note – that time was actually 03:21hrs Pacific, = 21:21hrs Aust.Eastern, = 10:21hrs UT. when I submitted. Time to wind-up the clock I reckon.

    Ivan.

  30. icemith

    Oops,… that is Australian Eastern SUMMER Time, at least until this coming Sunday morning when we drop it. (And the hour).

    Ivan.

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