SpaceX Scrubs Falcon 9 Launch to Check 2nd Stage Sensor, Resets Liftoff to Dec. 19: Photos/Watch Live

SpaceX Scrubs Falcon 9 Launch to Check 2nd Stage Sensor, Resets Liftoff to Dec. 19: Photos/Watch Live
Reused SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket poised for liftoff under gloomy weather on Dec. 17 for launch of NROL-108 spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) on Dec. 17, 2020 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center, Florida – prior to scrub and launch reset to Dec. 19, 2020. NASA SLS crawler at left in transit along crawlerway at complex 39. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL –  SpaceX scrubbed Thursday mornings, Dec. 17,  Falcon 9 launch attempt of a clandestine NRO spysat in the final minute of the countdown when a second stage sensor indicated slightly high pressure in the liquid Oxygen (LOX) tank – under truly gloomy weather conditions at Florida’s Spaceport that completely obscured the view of the rocket for a time during the count.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the LOX tank pressure was slightly high and needed more time for review.

“Pressure is slightly high in upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Review underway,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted.

Blastoff has now been reset to Saturday morning, Dec. 19 and the weather outlook is quite good

Liftoff of the 23-story tall single stick SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the NROL-108 intelligence gathering mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is re-slated for 9:00 a.m. EST (14:00 GMT), Saturday, Dec. 19 from seaside Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

The launch window runs three hours from 9 a.m. to 12 Noon EST.

“To allow additional time for checkouts, now targeting Saturday, December 19 for Falcon 9’s launch of NROL-108,” SpaceX tweeted.

 

Although it seemed like rainy and completely overcast Space Coast  weather would force a scrub, technical gremlins in the upper stage Falcon 9 hardware were the culprit in the abort at T Minus 1 minutes and 53 seconds.

Initially the launch was delayed 45 minutes into the 3 hour window as it was raining to await better weather.

As bird observes reused SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket poised for liftoff under gloomy weather on Dec. 17 for launch of NROL-108 spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) on Dec. 17, 2020 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center, Florida – prior to scrub and launch reset to Dec. 19, 2020 NASA SLS crawler at left in transit along crawlerway at complex 39. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

“Falcon 9 auto-abort called at T-1:53 due to a second stage sensor reading. Today’s launch window closes at 12:00 p.m. EST,” SpaceX tweeted.

 

 

Gloomy weather, misty rain and fog totally obscure view of SpaceX Falcon 9 and top secret NROL-108 payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) on Dec. 17, 2020 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center, Florida – prior to scrub and launch reset to Dec. 19, 2020 as flock of birds soars overhaed. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Ultimately engineers decided to take a closer look at the second stage LOX problems.

They lowered the rocket horizontal after detanking.

As of 5 p.m. EST today the rocket was still horizontal as engineers were perhaps still checking out all rocket systems.

Reused SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lowered horizontal on top of the pad for checks of the 2nd stage LOX tank following aborted launch of NROL-108 spy satellite on Dec. 17, 2020 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Launch reset to Dec. 19, 2020. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

After initially targeting a 24 hour turnaround to Friday, in the end they needed a 48 hour delay to Saturday.

 

The top secret payload encapsulated in the payload fairing is the clandestine NROL-108 mission spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

Whenever NROL-108 does fly it will be the final SpaceX launch of 2020- totaling 26 in all.

“Last launch of 2020 coming up,” Musk tweeted.

Enjoy our Space UpClose prelaunch photos of the SpaceX Falcon 9 horizontal and vertical at pad 39A taken by Ken Kremer.

UpClose view of the Falcon 9 nose cone emblazoned with the ‘Peace Through Strength’ artwork for the NROL spy satellite mission targeting liftoff reset to Dec. 19, 2020 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

You can watch the launch webcast live

The SpaceX webcast starts about 15 minutes before liftoff.

Reused SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket being raised vertical on Dec. 16 for launch of NROL-108 spy satellite on Dec. 19, 2020 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The weather outlook is excellent.

Air Force meteorologists with the 45th Weather Squadron forecast a 90% chance of acceptable condition at launch time for the 3 hour window that stretches to 12 Noon ET

The mission will also feature an extremely exciting landing of the first stage back at the Cape at Landing Zone-1 (LZ-1) some eight minutes after launch from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida about eight and a half minutes after launch.

Falcon 9’s first stage booster previously supported launch of SpaceX’s 19th and 20th cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station, a Starlink mission, and the SAOCOM 1B mission. See our earlier articles and photos.

SpaceX has landed 69 Falcon 9 first stages previously.

This will be SpaceX’s 26th and likely final launch of 2020 – establishing a truly remarkable launch cadence with 100% success this year.

The Falcon 9 stands at 70 m (229.6 ft) tall, 3.7 m (12 ft) diameter, weighs 549,054 kg (1,207,920 lb), and can lift 22,800 kg (50,265 lb) to Low Earth Orbit and 8,300 kg (18,300 lb) to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit.

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about National Security missions, SpaceX Crew Dragon, Starlink, Commercial Crew and Artemis and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Demo-2, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

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https://www.patreon.com/kenkremer

 

Reused SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket being raised vertical on Dec. 16 for launch of NROL108 spy satellite reset to Dec. 19, 2020 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

 

 

NROL-108 mission patch

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Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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