SpaceX scrubs Sunday launch attempt with Intelsat relay satellite – Spaceflight Now

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A computer-triggered abort halted the countdown of a Falcon 9 rocket Sunday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, pushing back the next mission in SpaceX’s launch surge until at least Monday.

The 229-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket was counting down to liftoff with an Intelsat communications satellite at 7:36 p.m. EDT (2336 GMT) Monday, and an iffy afternoon weather forecast gave way to clear skies as clocks ticked toward launch.

An automatic sequencer sent commands to load the two-stage rocket with super-chilled RP-1 kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants, and the Falcon 9’s engines were prepared for ignition and its fuel tanks pressurized for launch during the final minutes of Sunday’s countdown.

But clocks stopped at T-minus 9 seconds after a computer overseeing preset criteria in the rocket’s guidance, navigation and control system ordered an automatic abort. SpaceX’s launch director scrubbed Sunday’s launch attempt a few minutes later as engineers investigated the problem.

“We had a vehicle abort criteria violated at T-minus 10 seconds, a GNC (guidance, navigation and control) criteria,” the launch director said. “We’re still looking into what that is at this time.

“We’re not going to be able to get a recycle in today without going past the end of the window, so we’re officially scrubbed,” he said. “Go ahead and put a 24-hour recycle into work.”

SpaceX began draining the Falcon 9’s propellant tanks at launch pad 39A soon after the scrub.

If SpaceX’s launch team can understand the problem, and correct it if necessary, the Falcon 9 rocket could be fueled again Monday for a 58-minute launch window that opens at 7:37 p.m. EDT (2337 GMT).

The launch of the Intelsat 35e communications satellite is the third in a series of Falcon 9 flights over the last two weeks. If the rocket blasted off Sunday, it would have been the third Falcon 9 launch in a little over nine days, and the second from the same launch pad in Florida.

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