SpaceX, for the second day, had to call a scrub of its attempt to launch the SES-8 telecommunications satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

The mission was originally planned to take place on Monday, November 25, however three sequential problems during the 66-minute launch window prevent it from happening. The first problem was a relief valve failure within the liquid oxygen (LOX) system, whereas the second was a minor voltage-overload. Although these problems were solved and the countdown was restarted, another hold was given for a relief valve problem. “We observed unexpected readings with the first stage liquid oxygen system so we decided to investigate,” stated SpaceX officials, and the launch was scrubbed.

Due to busy air traffic before Thanksgiving, no launch could be performed on Tuesday and Wednesday, so the closest available launch window was selected: November 28, 2013. However, although the countdown reached t-0 without any anomalies during this rescheduled attempt, due to a “slower than expected” ramp-up of the thrust of the first stage engines, the system went into safe mode and did not allow the launch vehicle to lift-off from the pad. A second attempt was made to launch the vehicle at the very end of the launch window, however, this time, the countdown was terminated with a “manual” abort signal from the engineering team at t-48 seconds, and SpaceX had to call a scrub for another day.

Being the first geostationary launch mission of Falcon 9, this mission will be the most challenging launch to date for the company. The third attempt for the launch will possibly be performed within a few days, after the SpaceX teams inspect the vehicle in detail in its storage position.

Below, video of the latest engine ignition and abort:

Image caption: The first of two launch aborts for the Falcon 9 on November 28 (Credits: SpaceX).


About the author

Göktuğ Karacalıoğlu

Göktuğ Karacalıoğlu

Holding a BS in Mechanical Engineering, a MS in Engineering Management from Middle East Technical University (METU), Turkey, and a second MS degree on Space Sciences from International Space University, France, Göktuğ is now working as a researcher at NASA Ames Research Center, California. Besides his current work on space debris mitigation, he is also interested in asteroids, colonization on Mars and space launch vehicles. He is also a PhD candidate on Operations Research.