SpaceX scrub launch attempt

by Braddock Gaskill

SpaceX have scrubbed their launch attempt today, which was set to be the debut flight of their Falcon I rocket.

The initial 9pm (UK time) attempt was held at T-10 minutes in the countdown due to unacceptable weather, causing the one hour hold. Another hold was installed due to issues with the LOX holding tank, before a computer error on the rocket ended today’s attempt. A shortage of LOX at the launch site will delay the launch until about middle of December.

Background story from the lead up to the launch attempt:

SpaceX is launching from their own facilities in the small pacific Kwajalein Atoll, however all Atoll launch and tracking activities are supported by the US Army test range crew. 

The Atoll is part of the Marshall Islands, and is leased by the US Army as a missile test range and tracking facility.  SpaceX’s launch facilities are on the tiny speck of an island of Omelek in the Atoll.

An image of the Kwajalein Atoll:  (Source: SpaceX).

SpaceX will not be providing any webcast coverage to media or the public of the event; live video will only be available to media at the SpaceX headquarters in El Segundo, California.  SpaceX will provide recorded video of the event online at this web site shortly after launch is complete.

An aerial image of the SpaceX facilities on tiny Omelek island (Source: SpaceX).

NASASpaceFlight will be providing live updates in our forums from the SpaceX news conference call-in line as the launch is attempted.

Live update thread

In other SpaceX news this week, SpaceDev announced a contract with SpaceX for Falcon I launch services. 

The launch vehicle is planned for multiple primary microsatellite payloads and multiple secondary nanosatellite payloads produced by SpaceDev or other suppliers. SpaceDev has tentatively scheduled the first launch for May 2008, with additional optional launches to follow. 

With the use of SpaceX launch services combined with its existing microsat and nanosat satellite bus technology, SpaceDev hopes to become a ‘one stop shop’ for small satellite development and deployment.

If the relationship between SpaceDev and SpaceX continues to develop, it may foretell a future manned endeavor between the companies. SpaceDev recently announced its intention to develop a manned orbital and sub-orbital vehicle named Dream Chaser. 

The suborbital version of Dream Chaser may launch with internal rubber-burning hybrid motors, but the orbital version would launch on the side of a much larger launch rocket. 

While SpaceDev hopes to use very large versions of its rubber-burning hybrid rocket technology for the large orbital boosters, all of SpaceDev’s plans are contingent on the availability of funding which has not yet been secured.

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