Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch To Tuesday

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the maybe-some-other-time dept.

Space 43

An anonymous reader writes "SpaceX has cancelled the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket after identifying a potential concern during preflight testing. This is the third straight day technical issues or weather have caused a delay. "Today's Orbcomm launch attempt has been scrubbed to address a potential concern identified during pre-flight checks," a SpaceX spokesperson said in a statement. "The vehicle and payload are in good condition, and engineering teams will take the extra time to ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance prior to flight," the statement said. The rocket is now scheduled for a Tuesday launch."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

This is how rockets work.... delays happen (2)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 months ago | (#47295347)

It is almost like reporting that a thunderstorm was spotted in Florida today. Is that news?

Re:This is how rockets work.... delays happen (3, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | about 4 months ago | (#47295381)

It is almost like reporting that a thunderstorm was spotted in Florida today. Is that news?

As a pilot once sagely put it: Take-off is optional. Landing is compulsory.

Re:This is how rockets work.... delays happen (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 4 months ago | (#47295729)

It is almost like reporting that a thunderstorm was spotted in Florida today. Is that news?

As a pilot once sagely put it: Take-off is optional. Landing is compulsory.

Though, for a satellite, landing can also be optional.

Re:This is how rockets work.... delays happen (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47295507)

No, it would be news if a thunderstorm were striped in Florida today.

Re:This is how rockets work.... delays happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47299299)

Don't hold your breath. SpaceX now says they will postpone until early July to allow engineers to investigate vehicle issues and allow the launch site/range to proceed with scheduled maintenance.

Dammit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47295363)

I had my SPF -1000 and my suitcases packed for Mars!

This is news why? (3, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 4 months ago | (#47295393)

Launches get delayed all the time, especially for weather.

Re:This is news why? (3, Insightful)

beanMosheen (981339) | about 4 months ago | (#47295501)

better to be stuck on the pad than scattered across the ocean.

Re:This is news why? (3, Funny)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 4 months ago | (#47295989)

that's what she said!

Re:This is news why? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 4 months ago | (#47298457)

If weather and technical issues are going to cause delays like this, I don't see how SpaceX will ever be able to turn this into a viable industry.

Re: This is news why? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 4 months ago | (#47301713)

they can get better at the technical issues. Spaceport America will be in Texas, not Florida.

Daily Elon Musk post (3, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 4 months ago | (#47295427)

I was starting to get worried, it had almost been 24 hours since the last Elon Musk post. Thanks, Slashdot!

Re:Daily Elon Musk post (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47295503)

Well, at least he's building actual physical things in the West and hiring engineers here.

Re:Daily Elon Musk post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47295641)

You can't become a legend unless you hire a lot of people to sing your praises.

Re:Daily Elon Musk post (1)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47296925)

Now that would be an awesome idea for an egotistical billionaire - hire a choir to follow you around and literally sing your praises.

Re:Daily Elon Musk post (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47295773)

Given how Musk a) Does things that are news for nerds and b) Also stuff that matters..... I'm fine with it.

Why is a PR release on slashdot? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47295487)

Tell the investors, we don't give a fuck.

Re:Why is a PR release on slashdot? (2)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 4 months ago | (#47295589)

Spacecraft launches and news related to them definitely qualify as 'News for nerds' as well as 'stuff that matters,' so you can just go back to Mom's basement now :)

Re:Why is a PR release on slashdot? (3, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 months ago | (#47295753)

Launches are news. A scrubbed launch isn't. I consider that to be a difference.

Re:Why is a PR release on slashdot? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 months ago | (#47298511)

Other way around. Launches aren't news, because that means that everything happened the way it was supposed to happen. Scrubbed launches are news because something unexpected, something new, happened.

Consider the Apollo program. Apollo 11 landed on the moon. By the time Apollo 13 was scheduled to launch, everyone was so bored that they were having trouble getting air time on TV. They weren't news until something unexpected happened.

Re:Why is a PR release on slashdot? (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 months ago | (#47300207)

Consider the Apollo program. Apollo 11 landed on the moon. By the time Apollo 13 was scheduled to launch, everyone was so bored that they were having trouble getting air time on TV. They weren't news until something unexpected happened.

I doubt even for the Apollo 13 flight that having a scrubbed launch with the astronauts being pulled down from a Saturn V merely sitting on the launch pad would have received any air time.... or even an announcement by the PAO other than "we'll try again tomorrow".

It would be news if the Orbcomm satellites went off course and slammed into Miami or Orlando. That isn't what happened yesterday.

Another another delay? (1)

Extremus (1043274) | about 4 months ago | (#47295663)

I know that technical delays are common. But aren't they becoming too common in SpaceX? The past two or three launches have been affected by technical issues (even if not very serious). I wonder if this happen in other rocket launches also? Perhaps it is just the case that SpaceX have better means of checking for technical glitches BEFORE takeoff. But even so, wouldn't be better for them to "just" improve build quality??

Re:Another another delay? (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47295705)

It's clear that you're not an engineer. Huge amounts of time are spent debugging--often more than initial design and implementation. SpaceX is in the business of building systems reliant on intimate knowledge and applications of physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, etc.. Take your FUD somewhere else. Non-engineers seem to have this magical thinking that things happen overnight, when most improvements are incremental and hard-won.

Re:Another another delay? (2)

Extremus (1043274) | about 4 months ago | (#47297441)

What IS clear is that you don't know you own field of expertise. It is well know that there IS magic involved in engineering projects, such as this one:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Another another delay? (3, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 months ago | (#47295761)

Yes, for the history of the space program government rocket launches were delayed too for technical reasons. You'll also note some of the rockets exploded or failed to reach space. A for-profit company might not want to make so many fireworks.

Re:Another another delay? (4, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 months ago | (#47295775)

This isn't all that uncommon. Technical delays happen for everybody doing a launch. The only difference here is that SpaceX is open about each launch attempt and has a ravenous band of fans following each bolt and syllable being uttered by the launch control team.

I used to watch Shuttle launches, and trust me when I say that the stuff SpaceX is going through here is very routine and normal. ULA faces the same problems with its launches, including multiple scrubs even for long standing vehicles that have been launched hundreds of times.

It even happens for the Chinese, but they don't announce a launch until after it happens. That makes them look awesome instead of bumbling fools.

BTW, SpaceX does check the vehicle for technical glitches before launch. Why do you think it was scrubbed in the first place rather than blowing up spectacularly about 40 feet above the launch pad?

Re:Another another delay? (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 4 months ago | (#47295999)

Remember when we had a Debian system on the biosciences mission? They scrubbed the whole mission after they were already in space due to a fuel-cell issue that I think turned out to be a faulty sensor, and flew the entire mission a second time.

Re:Another another delay? (3, Insightful)

Cytotoxic (245301) | about 4 months ago | (#47296017)

Shuttle launch delays were the worst.... because shuttle launches are the only one's I have travelled to the cape to see. On at least half of our trips we went home disappointed.

SpaceX will get the chance to disappoint us when they launch the Falcon 9 Heavy. Or when they start landing the first stage back at Canaveral. Either of those will be worth the trip to see. Of course, worst case is that you spend the day splashing around in the bay along the causeway and meeting other dorks who think it is normal to sit around on a causeway all day waiting to watch a launch. A pretty good day even without the launch.

Re:Another another delay? (2)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 4 months ago | (#47297025)

I can think of much worse days out than sitting in the sun with an ice-box of chilled beverages, snacks, and the guarantee that at least 10% of the people present also brought their Magic decks.

Of cource, there's also the chance you'll see a rocket launch.

Re:Another another delay? (1)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47296929)

What I find most notable about SpaceX delays is how short they are. They have an incredible turnaround time on scrubbed launches and fixes.

Re: Another another delay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47297571)

Unmaned launches are like that. It depends on what the problem was. The turnaround isn't very incredible at all. Human-rated launches are a lot different of course.

Re:Another another delay? (3, Interesting)

Megane (129182) | about 4 months ago | (#47295905)

There are a lot of things that cause delays. For instance, it is my understanding that the payload (the 6 sats) needs to be checked before launch. The payload can say that it's not ready to launch. That's not SpaceX's fault. Weather sure isn't SpaceX's fault. Neither was the Air Force downrange radar (required to ensure that rockets aren't off-course) failing a couple of months ago. Also not SpaceX's fault is when other launches are delayed and interfere with everyone's schedules.

The Canaveral area is pretty damn busy. That's one of the reasons they're trying to get a launch center at Boca Chica in the southern tip of Texas.

And when it is their "fault", it's better for the rocket to say that something is wrong before launch and scrub, than to launch and remove all doubt that something is wrong by blowing up.

Re:Another another delay? (3, Insightful)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 4 months ago | (#47296181)

That's one of the reasons they're trying to get a launch center at Boca Chica in the southern tip of Texas.

I expect far and away the biggest reason is for recovery of the first stage of the Heavy. That's worth tens of millions of dollars per launch. Reducing facility crowding is just a bonus point.

They're planning on cross-feeding the center stage off the boosters. The boosters would drop off after around two minutes, and fly back to Boca Chica. The center stage would drop off three minutes later and continue on to a site in western Florida, or maybe a platform anchored off the shelf.

Re:Another another delay? (1)

Megane (129182) | about 4 months ago | (#47306519)

I expect far and away the biggest reason is for recovery of the first stage of the Heavy.

Except that they will launch they Heavy from everywhere, including 39A and Vandenberg. From what I've heard so far, they're not going to do more than three Heavy launches per year from BC. And I don't think there's anything special about Boca Chica that would make it easier for a Heavy to land itself.

I'm not sure what trajectory second stages would have to take, but it I doubt it's going to take off from Boca Chica and land at Canaveral, if only because then they would have to have two sites be clear. Sure, they could set up a new site in Florida, but they would have to go through all the regulatory bullshit again to set up a new site. And launches are likely to head ESE, so they would be too far south, maybe threading the needle between Florida and Cuba. And they would still need good weather at two sites, not just one.

And that still doesn't help launches from Canaveral. They're not moving all their launches to Boca Chica, they just want more places to launch from so that they can launch more rockets total.

One more good thing about Boca Chica is that the weather is more likely to be good there. Canaveral has to deal with rain from all the tropical storms that go by, including the subset that make their way to Texas.

Re:Another another delay? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 4 months ago | (#47311893)

I'm not sure what trajectory second stages would have to take

Just to clarify, I'm talking about the first stage and boosters. The second stage takes the payload all the way to orbit, so you could land it anywhere you wanted, once they design a version capable of surviving re-entry.

but it I doubt it's going to take off from Boca Chica and land at Canaveral

Canaveral is too far north for a low inclination orbit anyway, and would result in an unnecessary land overflight.

if only because then they would have to have two sites be clear. Sure, they could set up a new site in Florida, but they would have to go through all the regulatory bullshit again to set up a new site.

Understand, I'm not talking about a launch site. I'm only talking about a landing site. The first stage landing would be nearly empty, and would be immediately lowered onto a ship, and taken back to the manufacturing facility for refurbishment. The regulatory bullshit around a simple landing site would be much lower.

And they would still need good weather at two sites, not just one.

If they intend to recover the first stage, they need good weather at the landing site anyway, where ever that may be. For a typical Falcon 9, the first stage will fly back and land at the launch site. For a Falcon Heavy, the boosters will fly back to the launch site, but the first stage will continue on for another three minutes, putting it well past the fly back point. Either you land somewhere downrange, or you splash down in the water. Splashdowns result in much more expensive refurbishment.

Re:Another another delay? (1)

Calinous (985536) | about 4 months ago | (#47296405)

Delays don't matter much if the launch is a success.

Re:Another another delay? (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 4 months ago | (#47296853)

Perhaps on your projects: on mine, I'm afraid they represent direct expense and lost income

Re:Another another delay? (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 4 months ago | (#47296849)

These are new designs, effectively release candidates. It is _extremely_ difficult, and hideously expensive, to pre-test everything in final configuration, and these are very complex systems that are subjected to enormous stresses on launch and recovery. Complex modeling and mechanical specifications cannot hope to catch the surprises that may be found in final reviews and checklists, on the ground, before launching the craft.

  I'm afraid "improve build quality" could be a managerial directive, like "safety first" that doesn't actually describe any real, individual process that's not already in place.

Re:Another another delay? (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 4 months ago | (#47298185)

Improving the build quality is an act finely balanced between improvement and profitability. They can't halt everything while they make improvements. They have a production pipeline and can't continuously rebuild in-process launchers because then they'd not be launching for a few more years. What you see is their chosen locally optimal point between latency of a launch vs. launch throughput.

Delays (1)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about 4 months ago | (#47296101)

Good call.

This aint tiddlywinks kids, this is Rocket Science.

Shit gets real. Real quick.

Cancelled (1)

tquasar (1405457) | about 4 months ago | (#47296247)

Anon reader has been cancelled.

Their own timetable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47297319)

One of the things I've always respected about SpaceX, they do things on their own timetable. Instead of launching when they're not ready, ignoring technician warnings (Challenger) or launching in risky weather they take their time and launch when they feel they are ready. I'm sure they feel some pressure to launch on time but given they are dealing with a relatively new launcher it is best to take their time and thoroughly test everything.

Re:Their own timetable (1)

Arthur Dent '99 (226844) | about 4 months ago | (#47300357)

They've now delayed the launch to at least the first week of July. Here's a statement from the SpaceX website:

SpaceX is taking a closer look at a potential issue identified while conducting pre-flight checkouts during yesterday's countdown. SpaceX will stand down Tuesday while our engineering teams evaluate further, which will also allow the Range to move forward with previously scheduled maintenance. We are currently targeting the first week of July and will work with the Range to confirm the next available launch opportunities.

I think it's good that they're cautious. It shows that they're being thorough rather than reckless. And I'm sure their customers who have a very expensive piece of hardware on the rocket also appreciate that too. After all, this IS rocket science.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?