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Space Technology

Falcon 1 Launch Delayed Until 2006 22

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the better-safe-than-sorry dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Florida Today is reporting that SpaceX will have to wait until 2006 to launch their Falcon 1 rocket that was scheduled for today. Engineers called off the launch when they noticed structural problems with the first-stage tanks. From the article: 'The Falcon 1 was to be launched from the U.S. Army's Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kawajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Its payload: an $800,000 space research satellite that was built by cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy.'"
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Falcon 1 Launch Delayed Until 2006

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  • Oh boy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Monday December 19, 2005 @08:17PM (#14295431) Homepage Journal
    Things are not looking good for Elon Musk. Few more delays and people will start cancelling.
    • Re:Oh boy (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iamlucky13 (795185)
      I think his customers probably understand the delays are willing to sympathise with him to a point. Look at his customer manifest on the spacex website if you're curious. For the most part, it's government launches, because DARPA is interested in opening up more launcher options, so they're willing to risk a few lower priority projects trying out a "new product". I'm sure if it weren't for SpaceX, the cadet's satellite would be piggybacked onto a larger satellite for a lot less money. The cubesat doesn't ev
    • Blowing up a payload or putting it into a useless orbit is a failure. Those things scare away customers; look at Japan and their H2 rockets. Catching problems before launch and avoiding having to write off a payload makes customers happy.
    • I disagree. I think theyt scored plus points by finding a problem before it became a dissaster and then taking the prudent course of action.

      Every rocket every developed has had a troubled history, and some real good explosions - even with mature designs. Look at the disastrous history of Ariane - they're still launching.

  • Its payload: an $800,000 space research satellite that was built by cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
    Maybe the cadets should build the rocket, too.
  • More information (Score:3, Informative)

    by woohoodonuts (734070) on Monday December 19, 2005 @08:27PM (#14295489)
    The linked article isn't very informative. More information can be found here and here [space.com]. a brief history of the company can be found here [wikipedia.org] and a brief readout of this particular rocket can be found here [wikipedia.org].
  • It's a little disconcerting that a "structural" problem would be found only 15 minutes before the launch. The only thing I can think of off hand that makes sense is something related to fueling the rocket. The suggestion that repairs could possibly be made by early January, however, is encouraging. Obviously they're not yet talking about replacing the entire rocket or even shipping it offsite.

    As Mr. Musk has said, no new rocket has gotten off the ground without its share of problems. This is definitely s
    • It's a little disconcerting that a "structural" problem would be found only 15 minutes before the launch.

      My hunch is someone knew about it a while before hand. They just were reading meters and got that gut feeling that their prior knowledge was going to cause a failure.

      That or they were just being anal...

      When your dealing wtih rocket science you do have to be anal.
    • Re:Disappointed (Score:5, Informative)

      by FleaPlus (6935) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @12:31AM (#14296539) Journal
      It's a little disconcerting that a "structural" problem would be found only 15 minutes before the launch. The only thing I can think of off hand that makes sense is something related to fueling the rocket.

      Actually, the problem was in draining the rocket. From the official update page [spacex.com]:

      Due to high winds, we placed the countdown on hold and began draining the fuel tank. As we drained fuel from the 1st stage tank, a faulty pressurization valve caused a vacuum condition in the tank. This caused a fuel tank barrel section to deform and suck inward. It is important to note that the root cause is an electrical fault with a valve, not structural design.
  • I don't quite understand what has happened to our space program.

    We have been around the earth, been to the moon, we've had many successful missions, so why is it that now all we seem to suffer are problems?

    Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    • Re:What happened? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by njchick (611256)
      Please don't refer to SpaceX as "we" unless you work there. It's a private business, and it's not using tax money to build rockets. SpaceX needs to be cautious to avoid accidents, or they won't get contracts.

      Speaking of past achievements, let's not forget what happened to the Apollo 1 crew. SpaceX cannot afford even a disaster without loss of life - there is no government behind them, only investors.

      • I was referring to Americans going into space in general, no need to be scathing.

        ===

        We seem to encounter a lot of problems that we never used to, that's all I'm saying, my pedigree chum.

        Cheers!
    • Because We ran into social expenses taking away from space expenses, then we had a terrible recession coupled with hostile political leaders like Senator and later Vice-President Mondale.

      We've also sent probes sucessfully to Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and we've had three rovers on Mars, two of which worked much better than expected. Now we are sending a probe to Pluto.

      The Shuttle has been a problem, and that can be traced to the programs cuts and compromises from the 1970s, but it's also been a valuable t
      • "The Shuttle has been a problem, and that can be traced to the programs cuts and compromises..."

        No, it can be traced to the fact that the Shuttle is and always was an lousy design. Carrying wings and landing gear and using side-slung boosters that increase the frontal area is just stupid in a spaceship. The shuttle is not reusable without spending more in refurbishment than it would cost to build a throw-away booster. Using the same resources intelligently one could achieve several times better $/kg to LEO,
        • No, there were alternatives to the problem systems like the tiles, foam and SRB joints that caused the lost Shuttles. The cutbacks are 90% of the problem.

          Should we have stuck with Saturn? Yea, in hindsight we should have, but in 1972 this looked better.

          As for German "drawing board" technologies, it's a bunch of conjecture, besides, since the Americans and Soviets got all that "drawing board" technology and most of the Scientists, if it worked, it would have been developed. Shuttle didn't set back the US Spa
          • There were no real cutbacks during the shuttle design - quite the reverse - there were absolutely fraudulent initial cost estimates that ballooned. If ther were any way the hardware capability could have been made for the $ claimed or with the design offered, the design would have stayed closer to the initial conception. In fact, if the shuttle had been built as originally designed, at best it still would not have come close to the reliability or cost estimates that it's backers originally claimed, and thi
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe because it is hard. It is rocket science, you know.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    > Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site

    Ronald Reagan memorial budget busting vast hole in the ground. At least we never had to hear him say: "terrorist" or "9 11" in every sentence.
  • by Somegeek (624100) on Monday December 19, 2005 @10:21PM (#14296077)
    An update on Spacex's website gives the apparent cause of the damage:
    "Posted December 19, 2005 at 4:40 p.m. California time: Here is the apparent cause of structural damage (further analysis may change the conclusion):

    Due to high winds, we placed the countdown on hold and began draining the fuel tank. As we drained fuel from the 1st stage tank, a faulty pressurization valve caused a vacuum condition in the tank. This caused a fuel tank barrel section to deform and suck inward. It is important to note that the root cause is an electrical fault with a valve, not structural design.

    At this point, it appears that no other damage was sustained to the vehicle or the satellite. The rocket will be lowered down this afternoon and placed in its hangar for further inspection. --- Elon ---"

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