Featured Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX is building a constellation of Starlink internet beaming satellites. Today (March 15) in the morning, the rocket company attempted to launch its sixth batch of 60 satellites atop a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Starlink-6 mission was scheduled Sunday at 9:22 a.m. EDT. just seconds after liftoff, the Falcon 9 rocket's onboard computer system automatically detected an issue with one of its nine Merlin 1D engines, and triggered an abort at T-0 seconds. During the livestream a SpaceX commentator was giving updates as they said, "Ignition and liftoff!" Falcon 9 shutdown:
"Disregard, we have an abort."
Seems there was a power issue with one of the rocket's nine engines, the company has not specified the issue in detail yet. SpaceX's Supply Chain Supervisor, Michael Andrews, said during the livestream "Keep in mind, the purpose of the countdown is to help us catch potential issues prior to flight." He explained that the abort was triggered by computerized systems, that are programmed to continually asses the rocket's data before liftoff to ensure it is safe to launch but the system can automatically shutdown the engines from igniting if any issues are detected. Andrews added that the rocket was in good health, stated:
"There are a thousand ways a launch can go wrong, but only one way the launch can go right. Given that, we are overly cautious on the ground, and if the team sees anything that looks even slightly off, we'll stop the countdown."
SpaceX announced via Twitter: "Standing down today; standard auto-abort triggered due to out of family data during engine power check. Will announce next launch date opportunity once confirmed on the Range." SpaceX has a backup opportunity for Monday morning, likely around 9:00 a.m. EDT. The company has not confirmed if they will attempt a launch tomorrow. The United States Air Force and the Eastern Range oversee launches from Florida's Space Coast, will work with SpaceX in determining the next launch date available. Though, an updated launch weather forecast released by the 45th Space Wing on Sunday afternoon suggests the next launch opportunity for the Falcon 9 rocket could probably be Wednesday, March 18 at 8:21 a.m. EDT. Engineers will asses the abort data to determine if the rocket can take flight. The Falcon 9 for this mission previously launched four times. First, it launched in July and October 2018 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, then twice from Cape Canaveral in February and November 2019. After each mission, SpaceX recovered the booster by performing a controlled landing on autonomous drone ships at sea and on a landing pad. Reusing the rocket's first-stage booster reduces the cost of spaceflight. SpaceX's goal is to reuse a rocket on 10 flights, the most they have launched a particular Falcon 9 first-stage is four times.
Today's launch attempt video is linked below.
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.