No Go For SpaceX Launch Today – UPDATE

No Go For SpaceX Launch Today – UPDATE

UPDATE: SpaceX issued the following statement–“We observed unexpected readings with the first stage liquid oxygen system so we decided to investigate.  The launch vehicle and satellite are in great shape and we are looking forward to the next launch opportunity on Thursday at 5:38 Eastern time.”

ORIGINAL STORY:  SpaceX tried, but ultimately failed, to get its Falcon 9 rocket off the launch pad today with the SES-8 communications satellite.   This is the first launch of a Falcon 9 to geostationary transfer orbit.  Thursday is the next possible launch opportunity.

The weather was excellent for the launch today and everything was proceeding towards an on-time launch at 5:37 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST), with the launch window open until 6:43 pm EST.

SpaceX stopped the clock at T-13 minutes, however, because it was working to fix a valve problem on the first stage.

They fixed that problem and recycled the count for launch at 5:54 pm EST.  This time the clock got down to T-6:11 minutes when the autosequencer called a hold as the Falcon 9 was about to go to internal power.   SpaceX determined it needed to change a telemetry limit on a power supply.

That task was completed expeditiously and the count resumed again with a new launch time of 6:30 pm EST.  In this case, the third time was NOT the charm, however.   One of the SpaceX launch personnel could be heard on SpaceX’s webcast calling “hold, hold, hold” — the signal that something had gone awry — at T-3:40.

With that, the launch was scrubbed since there was not enough time in the launch window for another attempt today.  A SpaceX launch commentator said the problem was related to the liquid oxygen pressurization system and an “off-nominal condition” developed. 

SpaceX could try again on Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), when the launch window will be one minute later than today, so 5:38-6:44 pm EST.  Whether or not it does try on Thursday depends on what the problem is and how long it will take to remedy.

In a pre-launch media teleconference yesterday, the Chief Technical Officer of the customer for the launch, satellite services provider SES, was effusive in his praise for SpaceX.  He believes SpaceX is a game-changer in the launch services industry.   The company has a lot riding on this launch.

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