Falcon-9 First Launch Attempt

Falcon 9
Falcon 9 Holding at T-15
Image Credit: Space-X Webcast

Space Exploration Technologies Company (Space-X) has the Falcon 9 fueled and ready for launch. The launch window opened at 8:00 AM Phoenix time. Currently, the Falcon-9 is in a hold due to telemetry.

Weather is also a factor, with the Air Force range indicating only a 60% chance of launch.

Space-X has the launch live at their webcast.

It is now 8:45 AM Phoenix time and the hold has been in place for 45 minutes.

Currently, 60 minutes into the unplanned hold, the problem is the Flight Termination System (FTS). The telemetry signal is weak, and if the Range Safety Officer has to destroy the vehicle in flight, the system may not respond and the rocket will continue its off course flight (bad things column). The Range will not grant clearance until the problem is resolved. This may result in a rollback for the Falcon-9.

Latest update indicates at least 40 minutes until we obtain a viable T-0 (launch) time estimate. At the earliest, this would occur around 9:30 AM Phoenix time. Then, the count would have to resume at T-15 minutes. Earliest launch is now no sooner than 9:45 AM Phoenix time.

The weather is holding up nicely. Reports indicate storms are dissipating in the area. Current problems include the FTS telemetry signal, and now a fishing boat (Reel Insanity) having engine trouble. They are north of the flight exclusion zone, and their port is south. They want to return. They are no longer answering Coast Guard radio calls. The fine for unauthorized passage is $250,000. Hope they can make bail.

From the Forum at NASASPaceFlight: “The Reel Insanity crisis has been averted. He’s holding position. Apparently as a result of a “colorful” radio conversation with the Coast Guard.”

At 9:35 AM Phoenix time (12:35 EST), the clock has been reset to T-27:30 and Holding. A new T-0 is expected. Weather is good. No other issues are being worked at this time except for the FTS.

At 9:40 AM, the clock is once again at T-15 and Holding. Although the live feed shows active venting, the Hold Clock has stopped. Peculiar.

At 9:45 AM, the announcement was made that the count would resume at 10:00 AM Phoenix time at T-15 minutes. Then the Range went RED. No word on why, yet. The Hold Clock is counting.

We now have word that a vessel is “in the way”. The Falcon-9 rocket is holding up very well. The weather is good.

At 9:55 AM, we are 2 hours into the unplanned hold, and waiting for the down range area to clear. As soon as the vessel clears the restricted zone, we should get a new T-0.

At 10:20 AM, all the vessels have been cleared and the count has resumed. It is now T-10 minutes.

T-3 minutes. Falcon is on internal power. Launch is enabled. Cross your fingers, everyone. Lox load has ended.

T-120 seconds

Abort at main engine start

The launch vehicle is being safed. The clock has recycled to T-15 minutes. There are no further reports.

So at least give Space-X a gold star for being able to enter Main Engine Start (the green flashes that were reported were likely from the TEA-TEB ignition source) and being able to shutdown safely. One would not have wanted the alternative. Most likely we are looking at a 24 hour turnaround, assuming they can resolve the issue.

Interesting note on the Space-X webcast page: 10:30 AM PST “It looks as if we may have experienced a shutdown condition just after ignition. In these situations the vehicle puts itself into “safe mode”. There may be the chance to “recycle” the count and try again.”

Webcast images continue to show the Falcon-9 venting LOX on the pad, with the clock at T-15 and holding.

Pad abort involved an out-of-limit start-up parameter. Looking at an 11:45 AM new T-0 time.

At 11:30 AM, we have resumed the count. T-0 is set for 11:45 AM (2:45 PM EST).

T-10 minutes and a poll of all systems is underway.

T-7 minutes. Weather is good. Range is good. Falcon-9 is good.

Internal Power.

T-5 minutes.

T-3 minutes. LOX loading ended. All systems are green. Sunshine at the pad.

T-2 minutes. Range is GO.

Launch.

60 seconds and nominal flight.

2 minutes into a perfect flight. Perfect stage separation. Second stage is firing.

All systems are nominal.

At 8 minutes 45 seconds of flight, we have second stage shutdown. The Dragon is in orbit.

Falcon 9 Liftoff
Falcon 9 Liftoff
Image Credit: Space-X Webcast
Falcon 9 Stage
Falcon 9 Second Stage Burn
Image Credit: Space-X Webcast
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2 thoughts on “Falcon-9 First Launch Attempt

  1. Pingback: Maiden test of Spacex Falcon 9 rocket | Blog News

  2. Pingback: June 2010 « NSS Phoenix Space News

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