SpaceX scrubs the release of Falcon 9 to assess the issue of the second stage – Spaceflight Now

EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated at 2:00 EST (0700 GMT) late Saturday.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is on Pad 39A on Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, after an aborted countdown. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX on Thursday shattered a Falcon 9 launch attempt to assess a “slightly high” pressure in the liquid oxygen tank in the upper stage of the rocket, and officials rescheduled the company’s final mission of the year for Saturday morning.

A reading of the sensor on the upper stage of the Falcon 9 triggered a “self-abortion” at T-minus 1 minute and 53 seconds, as SpaceX counted to a scheduled takeoff from the Kennedy Space Center at 9:45 AM EST ( 1445 GMT) Thursday.

The Falcon 9 launch team reset the countdown clock to keep the possibility of trying to send the Falcon 9 rocket back into the sky before the end of the three-hour launch window on Thursday. Finally, officials decided to keep the rocket on the ground to allow more time to assess the potential problem on the upper stage.

SpaceX initially aimed to try again to launch the Falcon 9 rocket on Friday, but the company said late Thursday that the mission will be rescheduled for Saturday morning to allow extra time for check-out.

A secret payload for the National Reconnaissance Bureau, the US government’s spy satellite agency, is mounted above the Falcon 9 missile. The mission, designated NROL-108, will be SpaceX’s 26th and last Falcon 9 flight in 2020, surpassing the company’s previous record of 21 launches in a year in 2018.

Read our mission preview for launch details.

SpaceX patch for mission NROL-108. Credit: SpaceX

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, said engineers were evaluating a “slightly high” pressure in the rocket’s liquid oxygen tank.

“Standing today to inspect the rocket,” Musk wrote on Twitter.

SpaceX lowered the Falcon 9 rocket horizontally to pad 39A on Thursday night, likely to conduct inspections on the second stage.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.