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On Hand for the SpaceX Launch That Almost Was (Video) 100

Posted by timothy
from the simulated-only-do-not-attempt-keep-hands-in-cart dept.
This morning's nixed launch of SpaceX's Dragon capsule to the ISS with the company's Falcon booster was an exciting thing to be on hand for, despite the (literally) last-second halt. Shuttle launches used to cause miles of traffic backups extending well outside the gates of NASA's Cape Canaveral launch facilities; for all the buzz around the first private launch to the ISS, today's launch attempt was much more sparsely attended. In a small set of bleachers set up near the massive countdown clock, there were a few dozen enthusiasts and reporters aiming their cameras and binoculars at the launch site on the horizon. They counted down in time with the clock, and — just like NASA's own announcer — reached all the way to "liftoff." There was a brief flash as the engines ignited, but it died as fast as it appeared. It took only a few seconds for the crowd to realize that it was all over for today's shot. While the company's representatives remain upbeat, pointing out that the software worked as intended to stop a launch before anomalies turn into catastrophes, most of those on hand to see what they'd hoped to be a historic launch were a bit glum as they walked back to the parking lot and the press area — especially the ones who can't stay until the next try. I'm sticking around the area until the next scheduled launch window; hopefully next time the fates (and engines) will align.

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On Hand for the SpaceX Launch That Almost Was (Video)

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  • Cue The Applause (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:00PM (#40054275) Homepage Journal
    As frustrating as it is, this is a good example of the System Works and Learning From Past Mistakes.

    Now if only we could secure sufficient funding for NASA and space exploration in general, because no matter whether we had a shutdown or a catastrophe every failed launch is an expensive exercise.
  • by jamesh (87723) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:41PM (#40054465)

    Have any ideas at the likely to be possible in the next fifty years level?

    Either that, or better buttstrap bombs. This is the problem with progress... it might be safer and (maybe) cost less with tomorrows technology, but that will still be true tomorrow too, and if you keep waiting for tomorrow you'll never get anywhere.

    So if we want to go beyond the earth's atmosphere now we'll just have to keep strapping bombs to our butts.

  • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:58PM (#40054527)

    I've never seen a launch aborted this late before. The announcer had already said "Liftoff," and you could see the flames building up rapidly as usual. The rocket was only one second from moving off the pad when the shutdown command was triggered.

    Gwynne Shotwell's quote in another article was a good one -- paraphrasing, she told the reporter that the launch wasn't really seen as a "failure," because that's what happens when you fail to catch a fault condition in time.

    Just as any landing you can walk away from is a good landing, any launch that doesn't end with the rocket in a million flaming pieces is a good launch. They can try again in 3 days.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 19, 2012 @09:29PM (#40054621)

    NASA is too busy doing anything but the space program these days to care. Environmentalism to trumpeting Islam's great achievements.

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