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SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch To Tuesday 43

An anonymous reader writes "SpaceX has cancelled the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket after identifying a potential concern during preflight testing. This is the third straight day technical issues or weather have caused a delay. "Today's Orbcomm launch attempt has been scrubbed to address a potential concern identified during pre-flight checks," a SpaceX spokesperson said in a statement. "The vehicle and payload are in good condition, and engineering teams will take the extra time to ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance prior to flight," the statement said. The rocket is now scheduled for a Tuesday launch."
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SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch To Tuesday

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  • It is almost like reporting that a thunderstorm was spotted in Florida today. Is that news?

  • This is news why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @08:59PM (#47295393)
    Launches get delayed all the time, especially for weather.
  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @09:09PM (#47295427)

    I was starting to get worried, it had almost been 24 hours since the last Elon Musk post. Thanks, Slashdot!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, at least he's building actual physical things in the West and hiring engineers here.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Given how Musk a) Does things that are news for nerds and b) Also stuff that matters..... I'm fine with it.

  • I know that technical delays are common. But aren't they becoming too common in SpaceX? The past two or three launches have been affected by technical issues (even if not very serious). I wonder if this happen in other rocket launches also? Perhaps it is just the case that SpaceX have better means of checking for technical glitches BEFORE takeoff. But even so, wouldn't be better for them to "just" improve build quality??

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's clear that you're not an engineer. Huge amounts of time are spent debugging--often more than initial design and implementation. SpaceX is in the business of building systems reliant on intimate knowledge and applications of physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, etc.. Take your FUD somewhere else. Non-engineers seem to have this magical thinking that things happen overnight, when most improvements are incremental and hard-won.

    • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @10:54PM (#47295761)

      Yes, for the history of the space program government rocket launches were delayed too for technical reasons. You'll also note some of the rockets exploded or failed to reach space. A for-profit company might not want to make so many fireworks.

    • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning@netzero. n e t> on Sunday June 22, 2014 @10:58PM (#47295775) Homepage Journal

      This isn't all that uncommon. Technical delays happen for everybody doing a launch. The only difference here is that SpaceX is open about each launch attempt and has a ravenous band of fans following each bolt and syllable being uttered by the launch control team.

      I used to watch Shuttle launches, and trust me when I say that the stuff SpaceX is going through here is very routine and normal. ULA faces the same problems with its launches, including multiple scrubs even for long standing vehicles that have been launched hundreds of times.

      It even happens for the Chinese, but they don't announce a launch until after it happens. That makes them look awesome instead of bumbling fools.

      BTW, SpaceX does check the vehicle for technical glitches before launch. Why do you think it was scrubbed in the first place rather than blowing up spectacularly about 40 feet above the launch pad?

      • Remember when we had a Debian system on the biosciences mission? They scrubbed the whole mission after they were already in space due to a fuel-cell issue that I think turned out to be a faulty sensor, and flew the entire mission a second time.
      • by Cytotoxic ( 245301 ) on Monday June 23, 2014 @12:22AM (#47296017)

        Shuttle launch delays were the worst.... because shuttle launches are the only one's I have travelled to the cape to see. On at least half of our trips we went home disappointed.

        SpaceX will get the chance to disappoint us when they launch the Falcon 9 Heavy. Or when they start landing the first stage back at Canaveral. Either of those will be worth the trip to see. Of course, worst case is that you spend the day splashing around in the bay along the causeway and meeting other dorks who think it is normal to sit around on a causeway all day waiting to watch a launch. A pretty good day even without the launch.

        • I can think of much worse days out than sitting in the sun with an ice-box of chilled beverages, snacks, and the guarantee that at least 10% of the people present also brought their Magic decks.

          Of cource, there's also the chance you'll see a rocket launch.
      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        What I find most notable about SpaceX delays is how short they are. They have an incredible turnaround time on scrubbed launches and fixes.

    • by Megane ( 129182 ) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @11:42PM (#47295905) Homepage

      There are a lot of things that cause delays. For instance, it is my understanding that the payload (the 6 sats) needs to be checked before launch. The payload can say that it's not ready to launch. That's not SpaceX's fault. Weather sure isn't SpaceX's fault. Neither was the Air Force downrange radar (required to ensure that rockets aren't off-course) failing a couple of months ago. Also not SpaceX's fault is when other launches are delayed and interfere with everyone's schedules.

      The Canaveral area is pretty damn busy. That's one of the reasons they're trying to get a launch center at Boca Chica in the southern tip of Texas.

      And when it is their "fault", it's better for the rocket to say that something is wrong before launch and scrub, than to launch and remove all doubt that something is wrong by blowing up.

      • by wagnerrp ( 1305589 ) on Monday June 23, 2014 @01:36AM (#47296181)

        That's one of the reasons they're trying to get a launch center at Boca Chica in the southern tip of Texas.

        I expect far and away the biggest reason is for recovery of the first stage of the Heavy. That's worth tens of millions of dollars per launch. Reducing facility crowding is just a bonus point.

        They're planning on cross-feeding the center stage off the boosters. The boosters would drop off after around two minutes, and fly back to Boca Chica. The center stage would drop off three minutes later and continue on to a site in western Florida, or maybe a platform anchored off the shelf.

        • by Megane ( 129182 )

          I expect far and away the biggest reason is for recovery of the first stage of the Heavy.

          Except that they will launch they Heavy from everywhere, including 39A and Vandenberg. From what I've heard so far, they're not going to do more than three Heavy launches per year from BC. And I don't think there's anything special about Boca Chica that would make it easier for a Heavy to land itself.

          I'm not sure what trajectory second stages would have to take, but it I doubt it's going to take off from Boca Chica and land at Canaveral, if only because then they would have to have two sites be clear. Sure

          • I'm not sure what trajectory second stages would have to take

            Just to clarify, I'm talking about the first stage and boosters. The second stage takes the payload all the way to orbit, so you could land it anywhere you wanted, once they design a version capable of surviving re-entry.

            but it I doubt it's going to take off from Boca Chica and land at Canaveral

            Canaveral is too far north for a low inclination orbit anyway, and would result in an unnecessary land overflight.

            if only because then they would have to have two sites be clear. Sure, they could set up a new site in Florida, but they would have to go through all the regulatory bullshit again to set up a new site.

            Understand, I'm not talking about a launch site. I'm only talking about a landing site. The first stage landing would be nearly empty, and would be immediately lowered onto a

    • Delays don't matter much if the launch is a success.

    • These are new designs, effectively release candidates. It is _extremely_ difficult, and hideously expensive, to pre-test everything in final configuration, and these are very complex systems that are subjected to enormous stresses on launch and recovery. Complex modeling and mechanical specifications cannot hope to catch the surprises that may be found in final reviews and checklists, on the ground, before launching the craft.

      I'm afraid "improve build quality" could be a managerial directive, like "

    • by tibit ( 1762298 )

      Improving the build quality is an act finely balanced between improvement and profitability. They can't halt everything while they make improvements. They have a production pipeline and can't continuously rebuild in-process launchers because then they'd not be launching for a few more years. What you see is their chosen locally optimal point between latency of a launch vs. launch throughput.

  • Good call.

    This aint tiddlywinks kids, this is Rocket Science.

    Shit gets real. Real quick.

  • Anon reader has been cancelled.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    One of the things I've always respected about SpaceX, they do things on their own timetable. Instead of launching when they're not ready, ignoring technician warnings (Challenger) or launching in risky weather they take their time and launch when they feel they are ready. I'm sure they feel some pressure to launch on time but given they are dealing with a relatively new launcher it is best to take their time and thoroughly test everything.

    • They've now delayed the launch to at least the first week of July. Here's a statement from the SpaceX website:

      SpaceX is taking a closer look at a potential issue identified while conducting pre-flight checkouts during yesterday's countdown. SpaceX will stand down Tuesday while our engineering teams evaluate further, which will also allow the Range to move forward with previously scheduled maintenance. We are currently targeting the first week of July and will work with the Range to confirm the next available launch opportunities.

      I think it's good that they're cautious. It shows that they're being thorough rather than reckless. And I'm sure their customers who have a very expensive piece of hardware on the rocket also appreciate that too. After all, this IS rocket science.

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