Headlines > News > LIVE COVERAGE: SCRUB Falcon DemoSat Launch (updated March 20th, 00:34 GMT)

LIVE COVERAGE: SCRUB Falcon DemoSat Launch (updated March 20th, 00:34 GMT)

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:52 pm
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New live coverage for March 20th available at:

March 20th

00:34 GMT (7:34 p.m. EST): SpaceX will recycle for 24 hours and will make a new attempt tomorrow at 23:00 GMT

00:27 GMT (7:27 p.m. EST): Rocket and launch site is saved and the detailed analysis of the launch abort is underway. When new information arises or the new launch date and window is known, you’ll get it on this page or in a new news article.

00:14 GMT (7:14 p.m. EST): Detanking the rocket, there will not be a launch today of SpaceX Falcon 1, another try could be made on Tuesday or Wednesday.

00:12 GMT (7:12 p.m. EST): Launch scrub procedure

00:08 GMT (7:08 p.m. EST): “At about a minute-and-a-half out of launch, we shift from communicating to the vehicle through the land lines to communicating through the Range RF (radio frequency). And it is possible we were just not picking up the Range RF signal. So that’s what I know so far,” says Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX vice president of business development.

March 19th

23:59 GMT (6:59 p.m. EST): The problem appears to be related to the Range and telemetry

23:56 GMT (6:56 p.m. EST): Information about the abort is expected within the next 10 minutes

23:55 GMT (6:55 p.m. EST): Analysis of the count abort is underway. That don’t have to be a severe problem as SpaceX added several more triggers for aborts since the launch attempt last year. Indeed there are about 30 times more reasons to halt a launch. Engineers are currently working on the problem. SpaceX has time available to troubleshoot the issue and try the launch again. So the flight might continue today.

23:46 GMT (6:46 p.m. EST): Vehicle is saved, strongback back at the rocket. The reason for the abort is still unknown.

23:44 GMT (6:44 p.m. EST): Terminal Count Abort at T-1, Rocket saving procedures underway

23:40 GMT (6:40 p.m. EST): T-5 Falcon’s tanks getting to flight pressure

23:38 GMT (6:38 p.m. EST): T-7 strongback fully lowered

23:35 GMT (6:35 p.m. EST): T-10 Terminal Launch Sequence started

23:30 GMT (6:30 p.m. EST): T-15, All systems green for launch, No further holds in the countdown are planned.

23:25 GMT (6:25 p.m. EST): Tanks are filled and the topping off process has started..t-20 and counting..all is on go

23:15 GMT (6:15 p.m. EST): T-30, There is now audio with the webcast.

23:00 GMT (6:00 p.m. EST): New launch time is 23:45 GMT (6:45 p.m. EST), Fueling operations were suspended while the telemetry link was getting checked.

22:57 GMT (5:57 p.m. EST): The data is back up in El Segundo. I do believe we are a little bit behind in the count. I think we delayed some of the propellant loading activities,” says Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX vice president of business development. “It looks good for today, which is obviously good news.”

22:35 GMT (5:35 p.m. EST): There is some difficulty getting the telemetry stream from Omelek Island to the company’s headquarters in El Segundo, California. Shotwell indicated that the data transmission is a requirement for the launch to proceed today.

22:20 GMT (5:20 p.m. EST): Fueling operations of the oxidizer tanks has begun.

21:40 GMT (4:40 p.m. EST): The Webcast is active; The current weather situation at Omelek at 9:40 a.m. local time: The sky is partly cloudy and the wind freshed up to about 25 km/h.

20:30 GMT (3:30 p.m. EST): SpaceX sends out Demo 2 Media Summary. You can find the new additional information below.

15:40 GMT (10:40 a.m. EST): SpaceX reports that the flight readiness review conducted tonight shows all systems are go for a launch attempt at 4pm California time, 23:00 GMT (Monday). The webcast can be seen at http://www.spacex.com/webcast.php and will start at T-60 minutes.

12:00 GMT (7:00 a.m. EST): All systems are currently on go and the launch preparations are underway. The launch window opens in 11 hours. The weather prediction calls for some short showers today with a following tearing open sky. Winds are currently about 15 km/h coming from the North-East.

March 19: The launch window for the Falcon 1 launch is set to 23:00 GMT (6:00 p.m. EST) on March 19. It remains open for 4 hours until 3:00 GMT on March 20 (10:00 p.m. EST March 19).

Mission Statement

Demo-2 is the second flight of the Falcon 1 launch vehicle developed by Space Exploration Technologies in El Segundo, and is scheduled for launch first quarter FY07. The customer for this mission is Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under the DARPA/USAF Falcon program. The Falcon program has a focus on low-cost, responsive spacelift capability.

On this mission, dubbed the Demo-2 mission, the vehicle will carry ~50 kg of experiments and associated hardware from the launch site at Omelek into a 685 km circular orbit with 9° inclination. The payload consists of the Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS) and the Low Cost Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) Transmitter (LCT2), developed by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the mechanical adapter hardware required to interface the payload with the launch vehicle. The AFSS and LCT2 payloads are not deployed, but there will be a separation demonstration of an inert payload immediately after second stage 1st burn main engine shutdown.

The primary DARPA objective for this mission is to gather flight data on the Falcon 1 launch vehicle and supporting systems. A secondary objective is to separate a payload into LEO, to place the second stage into the planned final orbit, and demonstratiing AFSS using the LCT2 for telemetering data back to Kwajalein and to Wallops Flight Facility. The AFSS and LCT2 represent early steps in providing low-cost space-based range services for communications, tracking, and on-board autonomous flight termination. The AFSS is operating in a shadow mode for this mission.

Mission Parameters
Perigee (km) (Initial): 330
Apogee (km): 685
Inclination (deg): 9
Launch Azimuth (deg): 90.147
Period (min): 94.8
Stage 1 Burn Duration (sec): 168.34
Stage 2 Burn Duration (sec): 415.20
Time of SECO 1 (sec): 588.53
Dogleg: No
Visibility at SECO 1: Yes
Payload Mass (lbm): 90
Deployed Mass (lbm): 4.55
Liftoff Weight (lbm): 60695.8
Stage 1 Burnout Thrust (lbf): 77061.4
Stage 2 Burnout Thrust (lbf): 6550

Mission Burn Sequence and Timing

Stage 1 Ignition and Liftoff T (Time from liftoff) = 0 H (Altitude) = 0 V (Speed earth inertial) = 0.46 km/s
Stage 1 Burnout Stage Separation T = 160 s H = 75 km V = 2.6 km/s
Stage 2 Ignition T = 165 s H = 82 km V = 2.60 km/s
Fairing Separation T = 185 s H = 108 km V = 2.61 km/s
Stage 2 Burnout T = 565 s H = 330 km V = 7.3 km/s
Payload Deployment T = 575 s H = 330 km V = 7.3 km/s


In preparation for launch of the DemoFlight 2, the team on Kwaj performed a static fire test yesterday. A static fire is when the rocket is fully loaded with fuel, and taken all the way through countdown and then held down as the engines are fired.

The reason for the static fire is to go through the countdown and check all systems. The static fire was successful and proceeded without any aborts. (aborts would be a computer alert to abort the launch based on any small system failure)

Initial review is very positive, almost to the point of a perfect countdown. There was an alert on the GPS system, but it is a back-up system designed to help with accuracy of the rocket’s position in space, but not flight-critical.

Regardless, the SpaceX team are examining the GPS thoroughly to understand what caused the alert. Once the scope of the problem is understood, it will determine when the launch will occur.

In the meantime, here is a killer video of the static fire:

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