19 May 2012

High Combustion Chamber Pressure Reading in Engine 5 Aborts SpaceX Launch

All nine engines for the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket roared to life Saturday morning. But with a mere half-second remaining before liftoff, the onboard computers automatically shut everything down. So instead of blasting off on a delivery mission to the space station, the rocket stayed on its launch pad amid a plume of engine exhaust.

...SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said that high combustion chamber pressure in engine No. 5 was to blame and that technicians would conduct an inspection later in the day. If the engine needs to be replaced, a spare is available.

Tuesday is the earliest that SpaceX can try again to send its cargo-laden Dragon capsule to the space station. The California-based company - formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. - is targeting every few days for a launch attempt to save fuel in case of rendezvous problems at the space station. Wednesday also could be a launch option. _SeattleTimes
Over 1,000 guest observers left Cape Canaveral disappointed, early this morning. But SpaceX officials vow to persist until they achieve a successful launch and docking with the international space station (ISS).

This morning's launch required precise timing in order to achieve full mission goals. Even one second's delay in launch would have prevented the mission from proceeding to completion, thus the absolute abort and computer shutdown when the anomalous pressure reading was detected.

Saturday morning's setback is the latest in a long line of delays for the private space company. And yet, SpaceX remains on the path to set countless records for private space missions, in addition to the records it has already set. The smart money continues to bet on SpaceX.

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