CAPA CANAVERAL, Fla. – UPDATE: A scheduled launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will send a secret spy satellite into orbit will have to wait a few more days after the company delayed takeoff due to a problem detected with the second stage of the rocket.
The Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to depart at 9:45 a.m. Thursday, but the launch was suspended about a minute earlier. The launch window worked until 12 noon, but the company decided to postpone takeoff by at least 24 hours to allow more time to resolve the issue.
An automatic abortion was triggered 1 minute and 53 seconds before the first launch attempt due to the reading of the sensor in the second stage, according to the company. The pressure was higher in the second stage than the engineers would like, according to SpaceX.
Staying down from today’s launch attempt of NROL-108 to take a closer look at the data; Falcon 9 and NROL-108 remain healthy. Teams work for a backup launch opportunity tomorrow with a three-hour window opening at 9:00 EST
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 17, 2020
Both the payload and the rocket are healthy.
SpaceX initially said it would try again on Friday to launch the National Reconnaissance Bureau satellite, but later pushed the new launch time until Saturday morning to allow more time for check-out.
The launch window opens at 9 am and runs until noon.
ORIGINAL STORY: Weather conditions were mostly favorable for the last launch of the year on the space coast on Thursday, a mission scheduled to include sound arms that shake the Earth generated by the descent of a Falcon 9 amplifier to Cape Canaveral.
If the programs are maintained, SpaceX will face 70% “go” conditions at the Kennedy Space Center for the launch of a secret intelligence satellite owned by the National Reconnaissance Bureau.
“Overnight, Wednesday through Thursday morning, a powerful high-pressure system moving east from South Texas will bring cooler, drier air to the space coast,” the 45th Space Force Squadron said Tuesday. “The main weather concern for Thursday is the take-off wind and the thick rule of the cloud layer associated with any persistent frontal cloud cover.”
Although not included in the “departure percentage” calculation for pad 39A, forecasters noted that higher-level winds could pose a moderate risk until Thursday morning.
After takeoff, the 162-foot Falcon 9 first-stage amplifier will separate from the second stage, then begin its descent back to Florida. Target: Landing Area 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Station, located approximately 9 miles south of Pad 39A.
As you descend to the top of the Cape, Space Coast residents and spectators should be prepared for the triple audible arms generated by the booster, which are harmless, except for a few scares and triggered car alarms.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket was selected by the NRO for this mission, known as NROL-108. Although the intelligence agency rarely provides details of its useful tasks, mission artwork released Tuesday shows a furious gorilla with fangs, beating his chest next to the text that says “Peace by force.”
“Gorillas are peaceful animals, but they can be fierce when needed,” NRO he said via Twitter. “Like the gorilla, our NROL-108 mission is constantly vigilant and ready to defend its own, demonstrating the NGO’s commitment to protecting US fighters, interests and allies.”
Thursday’s launch will mark the 31st of the year for the Space Coast.
- Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
- Mission: NRO information satellite
- Launch time: TBD
- Launch window: 9:00 – 12:00 ET
- Launch: 39A at the Kennedy Space Center
- Landing: Landing Area 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
- Weather: 70% “leave”
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