SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, experienced a series of back-to-back launch aborts of its Falcon 9 rocket. Although its common in the aerospace industry for rocket launches to be scrubbed due to weather or technical issues, two consecutive aborts comes as a surprise to those who follow SpaceX's achievements closely.
The Falcon 9 rocket features advanced sensors that assess the vehicle's condition during the countdown sequence leading to liftoff. If a sensor detects an anomaly, it automatically aborts the launch. On Thursday, October 1st, at around 9:17 a.m. EDT. SpaceX ignited a twice-flown Falcon 9 rocket to propel the thirteenth fleet of 60 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit but at around T-18 seconds before liftoff, the mission automatically aborted due to an anomalous ground-sensor reading. -"Standing down from today's Starlink mission due to an out of family ground system sensor reading; will announce a new target launch date once confirmed on the Range," the company stated. The abort came after the Starlink-13 mission has been previously delayed a couple of times due to unfavorable weather at the Florida space coast.
Then on Friday, October 2nd, SpaceX aborted a national security launch of a new Falcon 9 rocket carrying an upgraded third generation Global Positioning Satellite (GPS-III Space Vehicle 04) for the United States Space Force. Around two seconds before the 9:43 p.m. EDT liftoff timeframe, launch controllers scrubbed the launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40.
We will need to make a lot of improvements to have a chance of completing 48 launches next year!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 3, 2020
The company announced --"Standing down from tonight's launch attempt of GPS III-4." Soon after the mission was aborted, Musk said - "We will need to make a lot of improvements to have a chance of completing 48 launches next year!"
During the Live broadcast the Principal Integration Engineer at SpaceX John Insprucker said the next launch opportunity for this mission is on Saturday, October 3rd at 9:39 p.m. EDT.
Last night, Musk shared via Twitter that the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the GPS-III satellite experienced "unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator," he wrote. Then he stated he will personally travel to Cape Canaveral, Florida, to assess the issues. "... We’re doing a broad review of launch site, propulsion, structures, avionics, range & regulatory constraints this weekend. I will also be at the Cape next week to review hardware in person," he said.
All of that and more. We’re doing a broad review of launch site, propulsion, structures, avionics, range & regulatory constraints this weekend. I will also be at the Cape next week to review hardware in person.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 3, 2020
Unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 3, 2020
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.