SpaceX had to call off their most recent rocket launch at the last minute and the reason why will disappoint you.
If you’ve been following the most recent space news, you probably already know that Elon Musk’s SpaceX is at the forefront of commercial rocket launches. Accordng to a report from Space.com, however, even the leading spaceflight company faces significant challenges getting its rockets off the ground.
SpaceX recently aborted the launch of a commercial satellite with less than a second to go before liftoff on February 28. According to company officials, the SES-9 satellite was slated for launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 6:46 p.m. on Sunday evening. Unfortunately, a boat entered the mission’s “keep-out-zone” and the launch was called pushed back 35 minutes.
As the final countdown approached, the Falcon 9 rocket’s engines fired up but suddenly shut down after the low-thrust alarm was triggered. Elon Musk blamed rising oxygen temperatures and a helium bubble for triggering the alarm and cancelling the launch.
The SES-9 mission also included plans to land the Falcon 9’s first stage back on Earth for a soft landing. This marks the third time the mission has been pushed back, with launch attempts also taking place on Wednesday and Thursday of last week.
According to Falcon 9 product director John Insprucker, “We don’t have another launch planned at the moment. We’re going to have to continue to evaluate the first-stage telemetry that we have. The Falcon 9 is safe; the vehicle went through a standard recovery sequence that we’ve used many times.”
The original plan was for the Flacon 9 to deliver the communications satellite SES-9 into geostationary orbit for one of SpaceX’s big clients, Luxembourg-based SES. In addition to delivering the satellite into orbit, the mission provided another opportunity for engineers to successfully land a rocket on a drone-ship. They have tried to accomplish this numerous times before, and while recent attempts have landed on-target, each time the rocket crashed over and exploded upon landing.
An overview of the SES-9 Mission can be found here.