Continuing an exciting series of recycled launches from Florida’s Space Coast, Kennedy Space Center’s inclement weather forced SpaceX to place a Falcon 9 rocket and 60 Starlink broadband satellites on Monday. The Starlink launch is expected to be delayed until Thursday, after a pair of national security missions are set to explode from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday.
SpaceX stopped the Falcon Countdown on Monday, 30 seconds before a liftoff from Pad 39A, scheduled for an instantaneous launch window at 10:22 pm EDT (1422 GMT). The launch conductor of the company said the countdown stopped due to weather violations.
SpaceX did not immediately set a new target launch date, but sources said the next opportunity to launch the mission would be at around 9:17 am EDT (1317 GMT) on Thursday.
Two rocket flights with US national security payloads will take priority over the Eastern Range launch schedule at Cape Canaveral.
The Joint Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy Rocket is scheduled for liftoff from Pad 37B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 12:02 am EDT (0402 GMT) on Tuesday. Its mission, codenamed NROL-44, will deploy a classified cargo to the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency that owns US government spy satellites.
Delta 4-Heavy takes off from ground early Tuesday, assuming SpaceX will build a separate Falcon 9 rocket and a GPS navigation satellite for lift from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral during a 15-minute window at 9:55 am EDT. GMT will be ready on Tuesday (0155) Wednesday).
Three back-to-back launches – none directly related – are planned from separate pads on the Space Coast.
The Delta 4-Heavy Rocket – the most powerful in ULA’s fleet – was originally intended to launch in late August with the NOL-44 mission. ULA attempted a launch attempt on August 27 to investigate a problem with a launch pad pneumatics system, then just 29 seconds before a computer sequencer caused a failure in the pressure regulator associated with one of the rocket’s three. Commanded a hold. Hydrogen-Fuel Main Engine.
The countdown of August 29 ceased after one of the rocket’s three RS-68A engines. ULA’s launch team announced the aborted countdown as a burst of fire at the base of the rocket, a raging feature commonly seen during the Delta 4-Heavy’s engine startup sequence.
The rocket was later extracted from the cryogenic propellant, and ULA engineers detected the problem with a pressure regulator on the launch pad designed to flow helium gas to spin the rocket’s center engine for ignition. The regulator for the center failed to open, prompting an automatic sequencer of countdown to prevent the countdown.
ULA President and Chief Executive Officer, Tory Bruno, tweeted that engineers refurbished and tested all three pressure flow devices on Pad 37B before proceeding with another launch effort.
ULA set September 26 for the next launch effort for the NROL-44 mission, but officials again delayed the mission to investigate a concern with a swing arm retraction system at Cape Canaveral’s Delta 4-heavyside launch complex Of. The vehicle is designed to quickly retract liquid propellants and air-conditioned air feeding swing arms from the rocket at liftoff.
Ulla announced early Monday that the Delta 4-Heavy rocket was on track for a Florida launch on time, after midnight Tuesday.
The 235-foot-long (71.6 m) Delta 4-heavy rocket will arc east of Cape Canaveral over the Atlantic Ocean, targeting a geosynchronous orbit more than 22,000 miles (about 36,000 kilometers) near the equator.
While the NRO has not revealed any details about the payload of the Delta 4-Heavy, analysts believe it is likely a signal intelligence satellite with a giant antenna to be as large as a football field in space. Will not be ready. If the analysts are correct, the spacecraft will stop telephone calls and data transmissions from American allies.
The Falcon 9 rocket 40 is scheduled to explode from the pad on Tuesday night, which will lock the US Space Force’s next Global Positioning System spacecraft, the fourth in the latest generation of GPS navigation satellites made by Lockheed Martin.
The GPS 3 SV04 spacecraft joined three previous Lockheed Martin-built GPS 3-series satellites launched on December 2018, August 2019 and 30 June this year.
But the official weather forecast on Cape Canaveral is Tuesday for NOL-44 and GPS missions. There is a 60 percent chance of good conditions for the launch of the Delta 4-heavy rocket early Tuesday, and just 40 percent probability of acceptable weather for the Falcon 9 launch Tuesday night with a GPS satellite.
If NOL-44 and GPS fly according to the mission schedule, SpaceX could launch its Falcon 9 rocket with pad 60A Thursday with the next 60 Starlink satellites.
SpaceX has launched 715 Starlink satellites to date, and is nearing the halfway mark in a series of missions to orbit around 1,440 broadband relay stations to provide high-speed Internet services worldwide.
SpaceX has received regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission to launch 12,000 StarLink satellites for global broadband service, and in the coming years SpaceX has indicated its intention to seek authorization to install another 30,000 StarLink platforms .
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