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NASA Space Science

Falcon 9 Launch Aborted At Last Minute 149

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the timothy-camping-on-launchpad dept.
ClockEndGooner writes "Sadly, SpaceX had to abort its launch of the Falcon 9 to the International Space Station this morning due to higher than expected pressure levels in one of its engine chambers. NASA and SpaceX have another launch window scheduled for early next week." Probably better than an engine failing during launch; hopefully everything is worked out for Tuesday.
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Falcon 9 Launch Aborted At Last Minute

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  • by arcite (661011) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:32AM (#40050753)
    I guess it's better than blowing up!
  • fuck CBS. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StormyWeather (543593) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:36AM (#40050773) Homepage

    "It's a setback for NASA's plan to have private companies take over much of what's been an exclusively government enterprise. "

    Not really, the thing intelligently averted a possible problem. Look at the reams of government rockets that blew up on the pad or feet off the ground. Are folks set back? Maybe a little, but if it had blown up it would have been more of a learning experience than a setback. Rocketry is almost nothing but constant failure. The fact that they didn't lose the hardware is an amazing success in my book. Typical CBS trying to paint private enterprises as being unable to compete with the government. Sure private companies can't force citizens to pay for their goods, so are forced to maintain costs to a greater degree, but an amazing set of engineers working anywhere can do amazing things, and are only limited by the bureaucracies they work inside of corporate or government.

    • Re:fuck CBS. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dyinobal (1427207) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:43AM (#40050811)
      Ya it seems to me CBS is being a putz, how many times has NASA delayed a launch? Launch delays are pretty par for the course when it comes to any sort of orbital ventures. These rockets are not simply devices and safety is taken very seriously because at the most basic level they are simply a controlled explosion, that runs the risk of becoming an uncontrolled explosion with the slightest problem.
      • Yes, although aborting .5 seconds from launch is a bit unusual (but as has been said better than the alternative and better than what NASA has done at times).
        • Re:fuck CBS. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AJWM (19027) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:41PM (#40052671) Homepage

          The SpaceX spokeswoman compared it to a pilot doing an engine run-up and checking the gauges before take-off. They ran up the engines, didn't like what they saw on one of them, and shut it down.

          Shuttle did something similar at least once, possibly twice: ignited the main engines, saw something out of spec, and shut them down before lighting the solids. (Once you light solids, you're going somewhere whether you like it or not.)

          For that matter Gemini 6 (manned) did something similar with the engines lighting and the launch aborting before actual lift-off. In that case an electrical plug which was supposed to disconnect as the vehicle lifted off fell out when engines started. The computer saw that the plug was out but the vehicle hadn't moved and killed the engines. The astronauts should have ejected (if the Titan booster had lifted even a little it could have exploded when it fell back) but decided not to since they'd felt no motion (Schirra had experienced a Mercury launch). It launched successfully three days later.

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          I wonder if the computer was waiting to see if the pressure subsided before the launch window closed.

          In the Apollo era, I'm sure there were some automatic shutoffs, but I imagine a lot of data had to be monitored by humans, making these sorts of last half second aborts a lot less common.

          It's also worth pointing out that SpaceX is developing a human rated rocket based on the same basic technology. It would be really hard to sell NASA, congress, and perhaps most importantly, the astronauts rid

      • Re:fuck CBS. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... minus physicist> on Saturday May 19, 2012 @12:48PM (#40052369) Homepage Journal

        In the press conference after the launch abort, SpaceX said this was essentially a similar failure to one they had on the initial Falcon 9 flight.

        The #1 difference between this flight and the previous flight is that the launch window was so tight that they need to wait a couple of days to get the same launch opportunity again rather than doing a quick recycle and trying a minor fix like they did with the initial Falcon 9 launch. If all SpaceX had to do was to get this vehicle into orbit, it likely would already be there right now instead of being delayed by a couple more days.

        BTW, this same situation also happened several times with the Space Shuttle, and you are correct that this is pretty par for the course of any space launch. Rocket science is hard stuff and very unforgiving if you try to apply public relations and political correctness into the Rocket Equation. I guess the next launch opportunity is going to be Tuesday, as the engineers involved want to inspect the #5 rocket engine and find out what went wrong. They are going to be very busy over the next couple of days, likely pulling substantial overtime hours as well.

      • It's not like this is rocket science or anything...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Check Engine Light came on ?

    • The fact that they didn't lose the hardware is an amazing success in my book

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        They could have achieved this without lighting the engines.

        • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @11:10AM (#40051619)

          They could have achieved this without lighting the engines.

          The issue was high pressure in engine number 5. They would NOT be able to achieve this until combustion began, at which point the pressure they are measuring is generated. The guy hosting the webcast said something to the effect of "The computer analyzes everything after we light the engine, but before we release the rocket for flight, and will shut down if it detects a problem before we actually launch."

          A safety system worked as intended. All-in-all, a good safety system to have in place.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Guspaz (556486)

            The hold-and-release launch system they use (which many rockets don't) is what allows them to do this. They light up the engines, do their checks, and then if they're satisfied they release the clamps and launch the rocket. If they don't like what they see, they abort.

            From a technical standpoint, a Falcon 9 can operate normally with one engine failure, so they could probably have just shut off the affected engine and launched anyhow. Of course, they'd have no margin for error at that point... And they had n

    • Agreed...mostly... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by neoshroom (324937) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @09:22AM (#40050991)
      I'd have to agree with you entirely, minus the misdirected political assumptions.

      The journalist is looking at it from the standpoint that SpaceX was supposed to launch today and something went wrong, so it's a setback. In reality, what happened today was somewhat impressive in-and-of itself. The Falcon rocket auto-detected a problem with software and half a second before liftoff shut itself down without any damage.

      Would NASA have ever been able to do that? No. NASA would have sent the rocket into space with the problem because it had no such software. This already seems way better and safer.

      However, the journalist probably just didn't think about it that in-depth and so sees the failure to launch as a small failure (which it is, albiet not a serious one and a strong success at the same time). His talk of government is just boilerplate background not a biased pro-government agenda.
      • by Gripp (1969738) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @11:00AM (#40051543)
        you honestly think NASA used zero fault detection?? they had triple redundancy of nearly every system for god's sake! I for one see a pressure sensor/valve as nothing impressive. I can't imagine that such technology hasn't been employed in the space program since day one.

        As for TFA - the media makes me bitter. Something that was intended for the good of the public has become vastly more of a harm. While I am of the opinion that the transition from public to private space programs should have been accomplished more organically, privatizing it overall is a good thing. And smear campaigns by the media is only helping to setback our nation - as funding and public opinion are often closely related.
      • by dpilot (134227) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @11:43AM (#40051901) Homepage Journal

        For onething, at least one launch was aborted after the SSMEs fired, 6 seconds before the SRBs were set to fire. Did you never listen to the radio control patter, especially during the early shuttle launches. They were careful to say what "window options" were open during each phase of the flight. There was "abort to launch site", "abort tranatlantic", (to Spain, I believe.) and "abort to orbit:". Beyond that, there were points where various abort or even mission completion options could be accomplished with a one-engine fail, or later on even with a two-engine fail.

        Much as it may be fun to bash NASA, they've probably forgotten more about such mission control aspects than private industry has had the chance to learn yet. While we're still bashing NASA, they've probably forgotten many of their own lessons.

      • by DarrylM (170047) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:13PM (#40052527) Homepage

        As someone else posted, an engine cut-off just before launch happened several times during the Shuttle program. There was even a case where a main engine shut down during flight, forcing an abort to orbit (ATO) - do a Youtube search for the launch of Challenger mission STS-51F.

        One of my favourite space-related quotes came from STS-41D (Discovery), which had a main engine cut off at T-6s. Apparently the situation was rather...tense, with a fire starting after the engines shut down. One of the crewmen broke the tension: "Gee, I thought we'd be a lot higher at MECO!" (Main Engine Cut-Off).

      • by sysrammer (446839)

        Would NASA have ever been able to do that? No. NASA would have sent the rocket into space with the problem because it had no such software. This already seems way better and safer.

        I specifically remember at least one shuttle launch was aborted in a similar manner, and I believe there was at least one instance back when we were riding candles.

        sr

    • You forget these "private rockets" are almost fully funded with government grants at this point.

      It is true that Space X seems to have a had a lot of leeway to try some new ideas. It may be that at NASA, engineers have not been given enough leeway to try new ideas, perhaps due to the politicians and congress which may be more dictated by corporate political affiliations, such as the insistence that scientists only use a certain technology on a rocket project, such as Space Shuttle technology, rather than thi

      • You forget these "private rockets" are almost fully funded with government grants at this point.

        [Citation Needed]

        • Re:fuck CBS. (Score:4, Informative)

          by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... minus physicist> on Saturday May 19, 2012 @01:37PM (#40052651) Homepage Journal

          SpaceX has been receiving money for the development of the Falcon series of rockets from the U.S. government over the life of the whole program. DARPA helped to pay for some of the initial Falcon 1 flights viewing the prospect of another launch company as something beneficial for the American military. DARPA payloads were on board those flights, including a satellite put together by the cadets at the Air Force Academy which flew on flight 3 of the Falcon 1.

          This said, Elon Musk and the investors in SpaceX did pay for the bulk of the Falcon 1 development program, and the first two flights of the Falcon 9 were paid completely by SpaceX.

          SpaceX has received money under the "Space Act Agreements" program operated through NASA to help with the development of the Falcon 9 as well, including helping to pay for the conformance testing of the docking system that the Dragon capsule will be using to attach itself to the International Space Station. This current flight will also be paid for by NASA through the COTS program, although it should be viewed differently than the cost-plus contractor model that was used to develop all of the previous NASA rocket systems including the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle vehicles as well as most of the other rockets that NASA has used in the past including stuff like the Scout rocket and other "unmanned" vehicles.

          There is a difference here, even though I will be the first to admit that some government money is being involved. The largest difference that should be noticed is that SpaceX owns the vehicle and does not need NASA permission in order to sell these vehicles to private individuals.... which was not the case for the Space Shuttle or any of the other vehicles operated by NASA. In the 1970's, a wealthy person could not have gone to Boeing and the other NASA contractors to simply buy a Saturn V regardless of how much money they had, and I know for a fact that in the 1980's and 1990's there were several private investors who wanted to buy a Space Shuttle....and couldn't get congressional authorization for the purchase. There are several private companies who already have purchased the Falcon 9 and will be on future flights of the spacecraft (assuming all goes well in the next few days). Those vehicle being purchased by private companies certainly are not being purchased with public funds.

      • by tsotha (720379)

        You forget these "private rockets" are almost fully funded with government grants at this point.

        No, actually this isn't true in the SpaceX case. The design was fully funded by SpaceX. Now, much of the business they hope to capture is government business, so it's not like SpaceX would exist without the government. But they didn't get grants to build the rockets they've built.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      Not really, the thing intelligently averted a possible problem.

      So, it's failure is really proof of it's success! Cancellation of take-off, FTW!

      Maybe they just didn't use enough Reardon Metal when they built this thing.

      I guess we just have to lower the bar when private industry does something, you know? I'm sure they'll get it right, sooner or later, and maybe someday they'll do it without government money.

  • Caution is good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gagol (583737) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:41AM (#40050805)
    I am glad to see this private enterprise is going with caution as opposed to rushing their launch no matter what. Microsoft and many other software companies can start to take notes. Looking forward to see a Falcon 9 servicing the ISS safely when ready.
    • by khallow (566160)
      I doubt there will be change. Reliability just isn't that much of an issue in normal software. Launch a rocket with poor reliability and you get a lot of smoking craters. Launch some software with poor reliability and you just get a bunch of pouty customers whom you hope (often with good reason) don't have access to anything better.
    • Technically it's the Dragon spacecraft that services the ISS.

      The Falcon's just the ride to one of the nicer views of the horizon. ;)
  • by excelsior_gr (969383) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:46AM (#40050823)

    Kudos to the engineers and their managers that realized that technical problems are not technicalities. It took two Space Shuttles and a few unmanned missions to figure it out, but I guess we are learning, and that is a good thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cryptolemur (1247988)
      I understood from the live footage that it was actually the computer on the Falcon that cut off the engines right after ignition, not any engineer or manager. I may be wrong, though.

      I also noticed that if SpaceX had to build the launch pad, the infrastructure, the launch control and the flight control centers, they might come up with bigger bill. But then again, NASA wasn't building the earlier rockets either, was it? So what exactly is new in this endeavour?
      • by kestasjk (933987) *

        But then again, NASA wasn't building the earlier rockets either, was it? So what exactly is new in this endeavour?

        Good points. I think the difference is that before NASA was saying "we want a bid for building a rocket with these exact properties / a moon lander to these specifications etc, and we will manage it and we will purchase it" it's now saying "we want a bid for a service to take these items from earth to the ISS"

        I always half thought it was just a way of decreasing funds to NASA without acting like you're scaling it back ("oh we'll be more efficient now" / "oh it's private enterprise that isn't getting its

      • by MightyYar (622222) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @09:52AM (#40051133)

        But then again, NASA wasn't building the earlier rockets either, was it? So what exactly is new in this endeavour?

        NASA more or less spec'd what the rocket had to do, rather than designing the rocket and hiring subcontractors to build it.

        But the main difference is that SpaceX can make this rocket in a way they deem efficient, rather than building some parts in one congressman's district, shipping them along a special rail line to another location, etc.

  • This namby-pamby fixation on safety would never have happened if Ronald Reagan were still alive.
    • Re:Pussies (Score:4, Informative)

      by Nidi62 (1525137) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @09:02AM (#40050885)
      When you have a $3.6 billion contract and a rocket that cost $300 million to develop and $200,000 just to fuel up, you are going to be very conservative when it comes to safety. The last thing you want is for your investment to literally blow up on you.
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        I see what you mean paiute! See this pansy-ass number bullshit Nidi62 is spewing? Just pull the fucking trigger already!

  • good call (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:51AM (#40050849) Homepage

    An aborted launch may not be a successful launch, but it also isn't a failed launch. Good call.

    • by damburger (981828)

      It is actually a successful abort test (albeit an unscheduled one!) Now, SpaceX knows that they can shut down the engines half a second before liftoff with no problems at all.

      An engine lost on launch would've prevented the payload reaching the ISS. Aborting the launch unquestionably saved this mission (although it may yet be unsuccessful.

      I admit, I've been skeptical of 'private' spaceflight, both because of the libertarian ideological bleating that seems to always be associated with it (posing a risk to gov

      • by Guspaz (556486)

        An engine lost on launch would've prevented the payload reaching the ISS. Aborting the launch unquestionably saved this mission (although it may yet be unsuccessful.

        Would it have? The F9 can operate normally with one engine failure. It can definitely do this after launch, although I'm not sure it can launch normally with one failed. In any case, there was no need to do that because they clamp the thing down so that they can abort a launch if they have to.

  • by ShooterNeo (555040) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:59AM (#40050881)

    When I'm launching my rockets full of explorers from the planet Kerth, we don't do aborts! If the engines are still attached to the ship, I'm punching the throttle and hitting the stage selection control! We're going to the Mun (or at least leaving the ground) no matter what!

    Also, I don't do any pansy ass "test flights" guided by computer to some orbiting tin can! Every one of my flights is crewed by red blooded, beer chugging, motorcycle riding Kerbals who LOVE it even when it all goes wrong.

    SpaceX and NASA could learn a lot from my experiences...

  • traditional NASA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by optimism (2183618) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @09:03AM (#40050893)

    From TFA:

    Even NASA's most seasoned launch commentator was taken off-guard.
    "Three, two, one, zero and liftoff," announced commentator George Diller, his voice trailing as the rocket failed to budge.

    They just keep following the old script, even when things change. Fresh blood, in the form of the private space industry, is great.

    Aborting a launch automatically based on sensor data is not a failure; it is a success.

    I'm sure the folks on the ISS have enough toilet paper and freeze-dried icecream to make it through the weekend, until the next launch window.

    • Aborting a launch automatically based on sensor data is not a failure; it is a success.

      It's disingenious to say that aborting a launch is a success. A success would have been getting the Falcon 9 to space (the original objective), instead it failed to launch . Maybe it's a success for the safety systems, which averted a disaster, and that is great. Maybe it's a cheaper failure than blowing up. Neither is a success you'd report on news.

      I hope next Tuesday/Wednesday it launches successfully.

    • by damburger (981828)

      Seriously? An announcer being surprised by the abort and not being able to follow what was happening for a second is the evidence you present for your idiotic, triumphalist neoliberal beliefs? Fuck right off.

      • by optimism (2183618)

        Seriously? An announcer being surprised by the abort and not being able to follow what was happening for a second is the evidence you present for your idiotic, triumphalist neoliberal beliefs? Fuck right off.

        Erm...no. My perceptions of NASA are based on the NASA bureaucracy's historical behavior over the last 4 decades.

        This was just an amusing anecdote that I thought might be modded up "Funny", not "Insightful", as it was. Apparently other folks agree with my perception of traditional NASA behavior.

        I am sorry that you're having a bad day, but please don't take it out on me.

  • by quacking duck (607555) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @09:06AM (#40050905)

    Even NASA's most seasoned launch commentator was taken off-guard.

    "Three, two, one, zero and liftoff," announced commentator George Diller, his voice trailing as the rocket failed to budge. "We've had a cutoff. Liftoff did not occur."

    Commentators do not have realtime views of the raw data that would indicate a cutoff.

    Space shuttle mission STS-68 had a similar last-second abort [youtube.com]; at 1:00 in the video it even shows the countdown clock at T-0 seconds, even though the main engines actually started the abort sequence a couple seconds earlier. But with the shuttles, it was very obvious to the commentator when liftoff didn't happen because there were solid rocket boosters that didn't fire.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    NASA has been outsourcing more routine builds for decades now. The difference is in the method of tendering for contract.

    The development money and the greater part of the designs and all the launch centres have come from the US government (with a good bit of guidance from old Soviet designs). Whether the engineers' paycheques are from NASA or from Musk with him taking a cut is pretty much irrelevant.

    To re-cap:
    1) Public money;
    2) Most of the work thanks to public employees;
    3) Final implementation responsibili

    • by damburger (981828)

      I'm glad I'm not the only one saying it.

      Musk himself isn't NASA bashing; he is extremely grateful for their assistance. Its all the SpaceX fanboys who are the problem, trying to make Falcon 9 out as the harbinger of a libertarian conquest of space. It isn't, its just a well designed rocket which the US government isn't paying massively over the odds for.

      • No. It is not the spacex fanboys that are the problems. The same ones that want to kill NASA would not care if it was SpaceX, OSC, or even Russia. They simply want NASA dead. There are many that support BOTH SpaceX AND NASA. I do (disclaimer: I have worked for NASA and have a clue of how useful they are).

        The ones to blame are those that either want to kill all gov, or simply want NASA dead.
        • by damburger (981828)

          I tried to make that distinction with the term 'fanboy'. People who like what SpaceX are doing without putting them on a libertarian pedestal I wouldn't put in that category.

    • by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @02:25PM (#40052865)

      Not quite though. The difference between traditional government contracting and the current COTS/CCDev approach is subtle but important.

      Development of all NASA vehicles (past the initial architecture studies) are done largely by private companies such as Lockheed Martin. However, the contracts for doing so are basically that the contractor is building exactly what the government asked of them, and they will be paid whatever the development costs with an additional guaranteed profit on top of it -- thus the name 'cost-plus contracting.' While this is necessary for high-risk, low-reward development, its something to avoid whenever possible since it combines the lack of competition of monopolistic or governmental development with the desire of corporations to increase their profits -- this is clearly a recipe for rising costs.

      COTS and CCDev operate on a model more like how you and I buy things. The companies contracted this way are being paid a fixed amount and expected to produce. Because this is an expensive field, some of the money is being provided up front (and at certain milestones) in order to speed up development, but even if the final product ends up costing more than NASA pays, we the taxpayer don't pay any extra -- the companies involved will still finish it though because otherwise they don't get paid (assuming they're far enough along at the time of realizing they're going to be over-budget that its still cheaper to finish). After development, it will be a purely pay for service contract, different from getting a Super Shuttle from the airport only in scale. By having multiple competitors and fixed-price contracts, costs and quality will be controlled.

      So yes, all previously development was 'commercial' as well. As someone involved in pushing for these "New Space" approaches, I really wish we had picked a better name for it, because the difference is subtle but importantly. Personally, I really like the name COTS because it implies the true goal: to make purchasing flights to orbit as simple as pulling the best competitor for the particular mission 'off the shelf' rather than requesting cost-plus custom solutions.

      • by rasmusbr (2186518)

        I think the good thing from a nerd-perspective about this new version of private space is that it is new which means that it is creating opportunities for new companies to form, which means that new organizations will be formed, which means that you can have organizations that are designed from the ground up to be optimized to achieve one or two goals, kind of like NASA was in the 1960's.

        NASA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin et al have their eyes on too many targets, most of which are more profitable than manned sp

  • And people told me to invest in SpaceX instead of Facebok. Take it now, suckers!

    Let me see how much richer I am.




    Wait a second....
  • by C0L0PH0N (613595) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @10:52AM (#40051501)
    The technology to abort a takeoff in the last 1/2 second is truly amazing, and because of high combustion pressure in an engine is a perfect catch. If the Boeing Delta II in 1997 had had the same type of status checking, it might have discovered the 17 foot crack in the booster, and aborted also, instead of blowing up on launch: http://www.cnn.com/TECH/9701/17/rocket.explosion/index.html [cnn.com]. And a Delta III had a rocket engine failure in 1999, which ruined the mission: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19990626&slug=2968601 [nwsource.com]. So the ability to detect an engine problem and shutdown before liftoff is again an amazing feat, and shows advancing technology. SpaceX is doing this right!
    • So the ability to detect an engine problem and shutdown before liftoff is again an amazing feat, and shows advancing technology.

      No, it's ancient technology - going all the way back to the 1950's. It's about as bog standard as it gets, and has been for a very, very long time.

      If the Boeing Delta II in 1997 had had the same type of status checking, it might have discovered the 17 foot crack in the booster, and aborted also, instead of blowing up on launch

      Nope. The pressure fault can't be discovered u

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @11:02AM (#40051555) Journal

    I read somewhere that the problem was with (slightly?) high pressure in engine number 5 (out of nine). The commentator mentioned that on the first Falcon launch, the engine at the same position failed/had problems.

    Does anyone know if it was the same (high pressure) problem? Is engine number 5 in an unusual spot (in the center?) that could cause it additional problems? (I don't know how the clustering of the engines are.). This is pretty wonky I know but I'm just curious if there is some correlation.

    I also read somewhere that one of the reasons for the failure of the Russian mega-rocket, the N-1, which was to put their man on the moon first, was because the first stage had 30(!) engines and it was impossible (at that time) to control them all. By comparison, of course the Saturn V had 5 engines in its first stage (each generating a million and half pounds of thrust!). I would assume that modern digital systems have made these control problems a thing of the past and that the Falcon 9 is not vulnerable to that problem. So more is better right? Could the Falcon 9 have made it to orbit even losing one?

    • by mattr (78516)

      In the post-scrub press conference SpaceX President Gwynn Shotwell said that on flight 1 there was a high pressure problem on engine 5 IIRC but that it was trending differently from the way it did this time [so possibly a different cause]. They are going to open it up and check it out.
      This has 9 engines and all are needed at liftoff, though after liftoff is achieved it can do without 1 or 2 engines she said. Either they will determine that the engine can be used as-is, or they might take an engine off a ro

      • ...or they might take an engine off a rocket they have in the garage and use it instead.

        You gotta admit that's pretty cool, eh?

        "You see, the problem here is this faulty thingamijigger-whosamawhatsit on engine 5."
        "Really? Well, that's too bad..."
        "Sure is, but you're in luck, we've got a spare rocket engine just sitting over in the hangar there. We'll swap the parts and you'll be on your merry way to orbit in a couple days!"
        "Oh! How fortuitous!"

        I mean, how many launch companies can realistically have a dialogue like that?

  • Then everything shut down. Drive all that way at 0 dark thirty for a fizzle.

    My first thought [imgur.com] when it was obvious the engines shut down.

    Ah, the good old days when launching a rocket involved someone named "Hans" and a big red button.

    • Then everything shut down. Drive all that way at 0 dark thirty for a fizzle.

      Hey, good for you though. All I did was set an alarm for an hour and a half after I went to sleep (late night at work). This launch, when it happens, will be Space Age 2.0, so it's a fairly momentous milestone. I would have gone out too if I were anywhere near local.

      The event was actually still impressive. The announcer even called 'lift-off' then had to backpedal. I was similarly watching the UStream and thought, 'wait, it's

    • "Ah, the good old days when launching a rocket involved someone named "Hans" and a big red button."

      Funny you should mention that ... Dr. Hans Koenigsmann at SpaceX [spacewiki.com]. Also see their people page here: SpaceX People [spacex.com]
  • They should have used Linux! [oblig. Slashdot snarky comment]

  • now why don't you fix your little problems and light this candle!

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