SpaceX halts rocket launch at the LAST second before lift-off when its auto-abort computer detected an engine issue
- SpaceX was set to launch Falcon 9 with 60 Starlink satellites on Sunday
- The rocket’s software detected an engine problem and aborted the mission
- The technology shut off the engines just milliseconds before the rocket took off
SpaceX aborted the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket on March 15 at the last second due to an engine issue.
During the livestream, an operator counts down from 10 and enthusiastically shouts ‘liftoff’, but quickly says ‘disregard, we have an abort.’
The rocket’s onboard computer triggered the shutdown moments before the scheduled 9:22 AM EDT takeoff after detecting an issue with one of the engines.
SpaceX later tweet: ‘Standing down today; standard auto-abort triggered due to out-of-family data during engine power check.’
The firm is set to announce the next launch date of the Falcon 9 that is sending another 60 Starlink satellites into orbit ‘once confirmed on the range.’
The Falcon 9 was set to takeoff on Sunday, which had favorable weather for the mission – the sky cleared up and the sun was out in full force minutes before the countdown began.
Towards the end of the 10 second countdown, the rockets engine powered on, but at the final moment they quickly shutdown when the abort was automatically triggered, reports Space.com.
Michael Andrews, a SpaceX supply chain manager, said during launch commentary:’ We had a condition regarding engine power that caused us to abort today’s launch.’
‘Prior to that the countdown was proceeding normally.’
‘Keep in mind, the purpose of the countdown is to help us catch potential issues prior to flight.’
The Falcon 9 was designed with safety features that detect technical issues and can automatically abort a mission before it is too late.
‘There are a thousand ways a launch can go wrong, but only one way the launch can go right,’ Andrews said.
‘Given that, we are overly cautious on the ground, and if the team sees anything that looks even slightly off, we’ll stop the countdown.’
SpaceX, which was founded in 2002, has had its fair shares of bumps in the road when it comes to launching its rockets according to Bloomberg.
On September 1, 2016, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket suffered a catastrophic explosion on the Cape Canaveral launch pad during a routine pre-launch check.
The blast, which shook buildings and windows miles away, occurred shortly after 9am and destroyed Facebook’s $200
million Amos-6 satellite that was set to launch on Saturday morning aboard the reusable rocket.
Just last month another the prototype of SpaceX’s next-generation Starship rocket failed to contain liquid nitrogen during its latest phase of testing.
The rocket exploded, sending the stainless steel cylinder flying off its stand and crashing.
And there were about a handful of other missteps in between.
WHAT IS STARLINK AND WHAT ARE ITS GOALS?
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched the fifth batch of its ‘Starlink’ space internet satellites – taking the total to 300.
They form a constellation of thousands of satellites, designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low Earth orbit.
The constellation, informally known as Starlink, and under development at SpaceX’s facilities in Redmond, Washington.
Its goal is to beam superfast internet into your home from space.
While satellite internet has been around for a while, it has suffered from high latency and unreliable connections.
Starlink is different. SpaceX says putting a ‘constellation’ of satellites in low earth orbit would provide high-speed, cable-like internet all over the world.
The billionaire’s company wants to create the global system to help it generate more cash.
Musk has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online.
It could also help fund a future city on Mars.
Helping humanity reach the red planet is one of Musk’s long-stated aims and was what inspired him to start SpaceX.
The company recently filed plans with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 4,425 satellites into orbit above the Earth – three times as many that are currently in operation.
‘Once fully deployed, the SpaceX system will pass over virtually all parts of the Earth’s surface and therefore, in principle, have the ability to provide ubiquitous global service,’ the firm said.
‘Every point on the Earth’s surface will see, at all times, a SpaceX satellite.’
The network will provide internet access to the US and the rest of the world, it added.
It is expected to take more than five years and $9.8 billion (£7.1bn) of investment, although satellite internet has proved an expensive market in the past and analysts expect the final bill will be higher.
Musk compared the project to ‘rebuilding the internet in space’, as it would reduce reliance on the existing network of undersea fibre-optic cables which criss-cross the planet.
In the US, the FCC welcomed the scheme as a way to provide internet connections to more people.