My husband and I were watching this launch as the live video coverage was streamed through LiveStream. It was very surreal to hear the countdown reach zero and realize that the spacecraft had not launched. It is normal to expect that if you hear the countdown reach zero that it means that you will soon be watching liftoff. That isn’t what happened this time. The launch was aborted a half-second before the countdown completed.
What happened? SpaceX released the following statement:
“Today’s launch was aborted when the flight computer detected slightly high pressure in the engine 5 combustion chamber. We have discovered the root cause and repairs or underway. During rigouous inspections of the engine, SpaceX engineers discovered a faulty check valve on the Merlin engine. We are now in the process of replacing the failed valve. Those repairs should be complete tonight, we will continue to review data on Sunday”.
SpaceX is going to try this launch again. The next launch is scheduled for 3:44 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 22, 2012. This date and time has been selected because it is when the Earth’s rotation will bring Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad in the path of the International Space Station’s orbit. They will be streaming live video of the launch through LiveStream once again. Will you be watching?
There will be something extra special about this launch. The ashes of Jimmy Doohan, Star Trek’s “Scotty”, were originally scheduled to be launched into space in 2008. It didn’t happen then because the rocket that held the ashes failed to reach orbit. There is a company called Celestis that is responsible for making sure that the tribute to Jimmy Doohan does happen. His ashes will be sent up into space when SpaceX makes their next launch on Tuesday.
Image: Falcon 9 and Dragon Ready for Launch by SpaceX