Technology

SpaceX’s Falcon 9: Computer Aborts Launch 10 Seconds Before Liftoff

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket was all set to launch on Sunday, but just 10 seconds before the takeoff, the mission had to be aborted owing to a technical glitch. Just when the issue was detected, the computers scrubbed the launch, and the countdown was stopped before the engines went into ignition mode.

SpaceX's Falcon 9
Image Credit: SpaceX-Imagery / Pixabay

Computer shuts down the launch

Initially, cloudy weather was expected to obstruct the launch, but that didn’t happen. Instead, a new glitch surfaced. With just 10 seconds left before liftoff, the computer detected some issues in the rocket’s guidance, navigation and control systems.

John Insprucker, principal integration engineer for the Falcon 9, stated, “This is a computer abort that happened at T-minus 10 seconds where we’re looking at the status of the guidance system and the flight hardware that supports it…..It appears that something was out of limits.”

After the problem is fixed, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 will make another attempt to launch the Intelsat 35e satellite on Monday, with the launch initiating at or around 7:37 p.m. Eastern, notes Ars Technica.

This was the third Falcon 9 rocket that SpaceX was planning to launch in only nine days after the successful launches of a Bulgarian communications satellite from the Kennedy Space Center on June 23 and ten Iridium NEXT telephone relay stations from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

No re-landing this time for SpaceX’s Falcon 9

With this third Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX is planning to launch an Intelsat 35e communications station, the fourth in a series of high-power satellites. The latest will be placed in the orbital slot 22,300 miles above the Atlantic Ocean to offer services to Latin America, Western Africa and the Caribbean. The Intelsat 35e is a 6,761-kilogram (14,906 lb) communications satellite built by Boeing. It is based on the BSS-702MP satellite bus and has an expected service life of at least 15 years.

All those who follow SpaceX’s Falcon 9 missions know that the company frequently re-lands the Falcon 9’s first stage on a barge or landing pad after launch. The company has done this 13 times so far. However, this can’t be done for the Intelsat 35e mission because the heavy satellite payload and high orbit will not leave enough fuel to make a successful return.

A break of one month

SpaceX hopes to launch the rocket on Monday, and thereafter, take a break for about a month. This break is partly because the U.S. Air Force will be upgrading some of its assets on the “Eastern Range,” which is used for rocket launches along the entire East Coast. These upgrades will ensure that the shipping lanes and the residents beneath the flight path of the launches are safe, notes Ars Technica.

After the Falcon 9 launch, there are no more rocket launches planned from Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida until August 3 when the United Launch Alliance is planning to launch a communications and data relay satellite for NASA into space. SpaceX’s next launch will not happen before August 10.