Last Saturday at 4:55 am Eastern US Time (GMT-4) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in south Florida, a new private rocket SpaceX Falcon 9 which was carrying a commercial cargo ship Dragon capsule for the International Space Station (ISS) had to abort its launch just half-second before the rocket lifted-off. The reason behind this unexpected abort was the a faulty valve that generated excessive pressure.
Saturday, May 19, 2012, was supposed to be a historical day. For the first time in the history, a private corporation was attempting to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. The SpaceX ‘Dragon’ as well as Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to launch at 4:55 am EDT on May 19. When the final countdown began – five, four, … just a half-second before zero, the computer ordered to abort the launch because it detected out-of-limit pressure reading and the engines shut down.
When the engineers looked into the matter, they found the problem was caused by a faulty check valve on the Merlin engine. Higher than allowable pressure was found inside the combustion chamber of engine No. 5 which was located in the center of the nine-engine first-stage cluster. However, through a detailed abort checklist, the SpaceX launch control team calmly worked, reconfigured various systems to ensure the rocket was in a safe configuration after the engine shutdown. NASA engineers spent whole night to repair the shuttle.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said, “We hold the vehicle down with purpose to watch for this exact issue. Just like a pilot at the end of a runway revs the engines and looks at the gauges, we were revving the engines, we were looking at the gauges and we decided not to fly.”
As SpaceX holds a $1.6 billion commercial contract to provide 12 cargo flights to the space station for delivery of more than 44,000 pounds of equipment and supplies, so they are very keen to do their job as soon as possible. If everything goes perfect, the company hopes to make another launch attempt on Tuesday, May 22 at 3:44:32 am. According to the forecast, there is a 60% chance of having good weather on Tuesday. For more details of the story, visit CNet.
Let’s see, if SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launches on Tuesday? Stay tuned.
Source : CNet
Image Credit : NASA TV