Don't forget the Space X launch!

By Phil Plait | May 18, 2012 2:24 pm

Space X is looking good to launch its Falcon 9 + Dragon capsule on Saturday morning at 08:55 UTC (04:55 Eastern US time). NASA tweeted about it, saying there’s a 70% chance of good weather at that time. It’s Florida, so that can change in an instant. Check with NASA and Space X for updates.

Space X put together a press kit with details on the launch and mission activities. Via Universe Today I saw this nice video with a great CGI animation of what will happen:

It’s actually a couple of years old, but still fun to watch. NASA TV will be carrying the launch live, as will Space X, and Elon Musk — CEO of Space X– will be live-tweeting it.


Comments (33)

  1. I love how every NASA-made animation has had a Battlestar Galactica-esque shakycam thing going on ever since that show came out. I half expected the capsule to spin around and start dogfighting Cylons.

    This is pretty cool though, I hope everything goes well with the launch. The US not having any way to stick people in orbit just feels… weird.

  2. Lee

    Very exciting! Hopefully the weather holds out.

    Whatever the outcome, this is a pretty significant event. I’ve been trying to get some of my cohorts excited about it, but it seems that being up at 4 a.m. to watch a webcast is just not an appealing prospect to most people.

  3. Tribeca Mike

    Can’t say as I like the music, but as long as it helps Roger Wilco defeat Vohaul and his army of insurance salesmen, it has to be a good thing.

  4. Maria

    Woot! Alarm set and ready.

    … After watching that video I have this overwhelming urge to revisit my mid 90s electronica albums. Also, I just totally aged myself.

  5. Muz

    I plan to watch it live, can’t wait!. This is a great service that NASA runs.

  6. Brian

    Maria@#4: I think you mean that you dated yourself, rather than aged yourself. (As in, I feel as if I aged myself five years by forcing myself to listen to that video all the way through.)

  7. antiavenger

    That 4:55 AM start is a pain for me personally to watch it though I am actually enthusiastic about it happening. At the very least, the video of the actual launch should be available via Youtube or NASA’s streaming service so either way I won’t be missing too much.

  8. All (coffee-making) systems are go! Ready to watch History.

  9. puppygod

    While we waiting for the launch, I just wanted to note that two days ago Japanese H-IIA rocket lifted Korean COMPSAT3 satellite into orbit, thus marking Japanese joining the club of commercial satellite lift providers. We indeed live in interesting times.

  10. Messier Tidy Upper

    T-minus 35 minutes 55 seconds now. All seems nominal so far.

    Watching on NASA TV online.

    Best wishes SpaceX, Falcon 9 & Dragon for a safe, smooth & successful launch, flight & landing. :-)

  11. Watching on NASA TV at work, T minus 10 minutes and all looks good. I haven’t been this into a launch since the early shuttle launches. If this mission success it changes the world. Space will no longer be the sole property of governments. We are finally stepping into the 21st century I dreamed of.

  12. In lieu of a replacement for the Shuttle Space X may be able to provide an interim solution for launching cargoes into orbit with its Dragon capsule, but in the longer run a revolutionary new approach is required in which a launch vehicle is fully reusable. Skylon – the concept spaceplane – is now moving closer to becoming a reality thanks to the testing of its SABRE engine system. In a few years time we could see the cost of launching cargo and humans into low-Earth orbit greatly reduced:

  13. Wrong

    72 hr turn around. Tues launch.

  14. puppygod

    What a tease. Oh well, we’ll wait.

  15. Bummer, but better safe than sorry.

  16. Dr. Hisham El Batawi

    Breaking news. Take off failed :(

  17. Azmi

    From Twitter:
    “Launch aborted: slightly high combustion chamber pressure on engine 5. Will adjust limits for countdown in a few days”

    Dang! Looking forward to history there. But still, I rather have them wait and fix things than watching something like this explode.

  18. Satan Claws

    What a bummer. I look forward for the next launch window on May 22nd.

    @Azmi (16): I agree.

  19. Jeff

    Just tuned into NASA TV via app at 0514 EST and saw the launch has been delayed. Too tired to stick around and see as to why the Falcon 9 won’t be making a space flight today but the next launch attempt is scheduled for Tuesday. Looks like its time to put our eyes to the skies for Sundays solar eclipse!

  20. EricJuve

    I believe that this launch scrub is a good example of why it is a bad idea to have SRBs on a manned vehicle.Looking forward to Tuesday.

  21. @ ^ EricJuve : Yet the SRBs worked pretty well for the Space Shuttles over a hundred and thirty plus successful flights. So they’re not that much of a bad idea.

    At least the rocket here is fine – Falcon 9 didn’t take off but it wasn’t lost or even, far as I know, damaged and will hopefully fly fine next time.

    Interesting comment on the SpaceX facebook page by Jim O’Kane :

    “May 22nd, the next launch window, is the 85th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight from NY to Paris. A good omen!

    Hope so.

    Bit of a pity and anti-climax but then the first attempt to launch the Space Shuttle ended in an abort too. I was watching at the time then as well – albeit decades younger and much smaller at the time.

    This is just a small set-back and hopefully Tues. 22nd we’ll see Dragon fly.

    PS. News article on the aborted launch linked to my name here.

  22. EricJuve

    @Messier, Heat of the moment reaction, I was just pleased that they didn’t lose the vehicle. I realized after I posted that if there had been SRBs they wouldn’t have lit them till the much more complex liquid engines were nominal.

  23. Mike Saunders

    I don’t understand why people are saying “Better safe than sorry” or “Better than an explosion” when all they are doing to fix the problem is changing the auto shutdown limits for the next launch. That means, if this amount of pressure happens again, it will launch anyway. Seems like someone messed up and threw a bunch of money away.

  24. david

    @23 During the post-abort press conference, Gwynne Shotwell indicated that the trend of the pressure was such that it didn’t appear to be just a badly set limit. There was a comment something like “we can’t blame this one on the software people”. She indicated that the #5 engine would be inspected and they hoped to have some further data later today.

  25. TTS


    I think the line was: “We aborted with purpose. It would have been a failure if we had lifted off with an engine trending in this direction.”

  26. lqd

    What’s with all the sad emoticons? I’m happy that they caught the error on time, it would have been disasterous for the company and commercial space exploration if something had gone wrong after liftoff. Congress is teeming with critters who would like nothing more than to see SpaceX fail, and a major accident on the maiden flight would have been exactly what they wanted to see.

    Still, a little disappointed that we’ll have to wait until Tuesday for history to be made. Good Luck SpaceX and Dragon.

  27. Bibliophylum

    I see it as a successful test of the emergency automatic shutdown procedures under real-world conditions.

  28. Nick L

    lqd Said: “Congress is teeming with critters who would like nothing more than to see SpaceX fail, and a major accident on the maiden flight would have been exactly what they wanted to see. ”

    On the other hand, it’s also teeming with people who want NASA to pick a winner now so that they can “speed things up” with resuming manned launches out of Florida. So a glitch like this may ultimately be the best outcome for all in the long run since it shows that even the company in the lead still has a way to go before winning the private sector space race.

  29. Messier Tidy Upper

    Well, they have to start somewhere and it could’ve much worse – like this :

    and this :

    and these :

    for instance. ūüėģ

    Rocket science is hard. It doesn’t always work perfectly each time. It’s worth doing.


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