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SpaceX Launch Tonight

Falcon 1 goes up at 4 PM Pacific Time. That's 7 PM for me, and we already have tickets purchased for Dark Knight, so I guess we'll miss it, if it goes on schedule. I'll have to watch the replay.

[Update at 10:30 PM EDT]

Back from the movie, which was very good. Ledger can certainly expect a posthumous Oscar nomination.

There have been launch delays, but they're currently reloading fuel after having drained it (there was apparently concern that it was getting too cold during other delays) and are now expecting a launch at 11 PM EDT (8 PM Pacific), in almost exactly half an hour.

[Update a couple minutes later]

They must plan for an 8:05 liftoff, based on the count I just heard. T-32 and counting at 7:33. Weather is green, though there's some cloud cover.

[Update about ten till the hour]

There must be a delay or something on the web feed, because they're still saying it will be an 8 PM PDT launch, even though their count makes it come out three or four minutes after that. I wonder if there will be a transmission delay on the launch itself of a couple minutes? If so it won't quite be live, but it will be close enough.

[Update shortly after scheduled launch time]

They had a (literally) last-minute abort. The window closes in an hour, and I doubt they can turn it around that fast, since they still have to look at the data to figure out what happened. Better luck tomorrow.

[Update a couple minutes later]

That was fast. Now they're saying they think they may be able to recycle from T-10, so it still may be on tonight.

[10:30 EDT update]

Now they're at T-7 and counting again.

[Update shortly after launch]

Uh oh. Sounds like strike three. The picture was lost at about 35 km altitude and a thousand meters/sec. They announced an "anomaly." That doesn't sound good. The last update on the site was that it was about to enter inertial guidance (not clear what they were doing prior to that). Did something go wrong with an IMU, or some other part of the GN&C?

Fortunately, you're allowed more than three strikes in this game. It has to be a huge disappointment, though, unless the anomaly was merely a loss of signal, and the vehicle's doing all right. The webcast is over, though. I think that I'd assume that the news is bad.


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Mike Puckett wrote:

You could turn off your ringer and have someone text you with the news.

Hunter wrote:

I've been watching a few hours ahead, in England, but with this latest delay I think I'm going to give up and read about it in the morning.

ken anthony wrote:

Earlier in the webcast somebody decided to zoom in on Max and Emily so now both the countdown and commentary on the bottom are out of the frame.

...and you thought you'd miss it? Wasn't the Joker great? Made Jack Nicholson look like a goof. So sad the role will not be reprised.

Mike Puckett wrote:

It appears the vehicle was lost shortly before staging.

ken anthony wrote:

I hope they got the data they need to figure out what happened. Bro's blog says they've got two falcons ready to go, but that doesn't replace the three satellites they just lost (assuming the worst.)

I hope they can make it beyond this. They might want to make a successful flight before taking on another paying customer? They do insure these payloads I imagine.

Mike Puckett wrote:

Anyone else notice the vehicle rolling a few degrees and then rolling back?

Karl Hallowell wrote:

They do insure these payloads I imagine.

With a 100% failure rate? Not on your life.

Narmer wrote:

I think that the second stage didn't go off right. That's the word from SpaceRef.

This is really depressing. These guys really need to get one in orbit. Is it me, or could this string of misses set back the whole industry by a few years?

Ryan Olcott wrote:

I'm actually fairly certain that the Government (DOD being who I know) doesn't insure their spacecraft. At least not for the SCs I've had experience with. They've tapped an endless supply of money so they don't need to worry about recouping our losses, They'll always have more next year.

ken anthony wrote:

vehicle rolling

It definitely rolled back and forth a bit. With a single engine would they have roll control at all? Pitch and yaw you'd have, but I would think you'd need an engine (pairs would be better) off center to have any roll control.

I was worried about the new Merlin, but apparently it did it's job. Demo 2 also had separation issues. So now they will focus more on that and I expect they will come up with an improved solution.

I have a lot of respect for Elon's attitude.

could this string of misses set back the whole industry by a few years?

In my opinion FWIW, although it would be natural to be gun-shy, I believe that once they are confident (and I think these guys will get there shortly) that they have the separation problem in hand they will have flight 4 ready to go soon. They've been ramping up production for an ambitious manifext during the past year and have the go ahead for production of number six.

What they've done so far is historic, but I expect this company is one of many that is going to define the century. I'd buy stock in it today if they offered it.

ken anthony wrote:

As disappointing as this 3rd flight was, in the long run it may turn out for the better. Sober experience can make you stronger and wiser. If they are ever to launch people atop this candle, I'd prefer they experience they're failures early.

From the start it seemed one of the main purposes of the Falcon 1 was to give them experience for making the other Falcon variations. That was both smart and still true. The software for multiple engines is about the only thing they wont be able to fully test until they do it. That and booster separation on the heavy variation.

Hmmm? That assumes they would even have a booster separation event. Perhaps the first stage and boosters will all parachute down together?

I do wish them well.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on August 2, 2008 12:02 PM.

How High Taxes Kill Jobs was the previous entry in this blog.

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