The Calda down clock flew fast for a Falcon 9 rocket on Friday night and reached T2 seconds before the launch of a valuable global positioning system satellite. It was only the second day, in just two days, that the start of a market 9 was called just a few seconds later.
An “unexpected ground-sensing reading” left an automatic aberration of the Starlink launch at T18 seconds on Thursday. And on Friday evening, according to Alan Musk, founder of SpaceX, “a sudden increase in pressure in the turbomachine gas generator” caused burns. In this case the turbomachine pressurizes the gas to enter the “gas generator”, which in turn is a smaller engine that powers the larger Merlin rocket engine.
So what is happening? SpaceX has now launched its Falcon 9 rocket more than 90 times, and earlier this week, the recent delays were almost entirely due to weather rather than technical problems with the rocket or its ground systems.
Hardness obviously also wants to know. Following the back-to-back scrubs, she announced on Twitter that she would visit the company’s two launch sites in Florida: a Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (Friday night scrub site) and a Kennedy Space Center (where That Starlink mission is waiting for the second start attempt).
Visiting next week
Town SpaceX wants to increase its engagement as it reaches 48 launches in 2021, more than double the company’s previous record for the total number of missions in a single year. Advanced scrubs like this week will stop it. Achieving consistent launches will require smooth operation.
“We’re conducting a comprehensive review of the launch site, propulsion, structures, avionics, boundaries and regular barriers earlier this week.” Muscat tweeted. “I’m also in Cape next week to personally review the hardware.”
The meeting is noteworthy, as Musk now spends most of his time in Boca Chika, Texas, working on the company’s next-generation launch system, Starship. For now, he will turn his attention to the Falcon 9 for a while.
It does matter, because Musk is actually both the chief executive of SpaceX as well as its chief engineer. He presides over discussions at all senior technical meetings, whether in the executive conference room at the SpaceX factory in Holthorn, California, or in a large room in Boca Chika.
He has always been, and always has been, the driving force behind SpaceX’s technological superiority. When the muscat is somewhere, things are done. He is constantly moving forward, asking why things can’t be faster or better or cheaper. He is good at motivating employees to meet seemingly impossible deadlines. So coming to Florida, Muscat is lending its technical expertise to the innumerable challenges of launching its rocket as well as reminding the start-up team of its ingenuity.
SpaceX should get its next chance soon. The company’s Starlink-12 mission, now twice delayed (once due to bad weather and once due to ground system issues), is scheduled to launch on Monday, October 5 at 7:46 a.m. EDT (11:46 UTC). We will watch with great interest.
Images listed by Trevor Mahalman for Urs Technica