For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, FL – In the final moments of the countdown a rogue aircraft flew into the range exclusion zone violating restricted airspace and scrubbed today’s, (June 29) planned launch of a veteran SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in an unexpected and very undesired twist to the disappointment of all involved including the launch team, payload participants and spectators ringing Florida’s Spaceport awaiting liftoff of the Transporter-2 dedicated rideshare mission.
The Falcon 9 liftoff was retargeted 24 hours later to Wednesday, June 30 at 2:56 p.m. ET (1856 GMT) after the teams determined there was not enough time to recycle the Falcon 9 and try again for later within the nearly 1 hour launch window.
“Hold called due to Range being no-go; teams are setting up for tomorrow’s backup opportunity,” SpaceX tweeted during the live webcast.
Hold called due to Range being no-go; teams are setting up for tomorrow's backup opportunity
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 29, 2021
After weathering bouts of rain and threatening lightening everything was seemingly GO and on track for today’s Falcon 9 blastoff at 2:56 p.m. ET Tuesday afternoon, June 29, until the T Minus 11 second mark – when a hold suddenly was called during the SpaceX live webcast due to a “fouled range” caused by an unidentified aircraft flying into the ‘Keep Out Zone’ around Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.
There was insufficient time to drain the liquid oxygen (LOX) and kerosene propellants and refill them intro the rocket. Loading takes about 35 minutes.
The scrub prompted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to complain about the regulatory burdens hindering space launches – unreasonably in his view
“Unfortunately, launch is called off for today, as an aircraft entered the “keep out zone”, which is unreasonably gigantic,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted.
“There is simply no way that humanity can become a spacefaring civilization without major regulatory reform. The current regulatory system is broken.”
Unfortunately, launch is called off for today, as an aircraft entered the “keep out zone”, which is unreasonably gigantic.
There is simply no way that humanity can become a spacefaring civilization without major regulatory reform. The current regulatory system is broken.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 29, 2021
The weather forecast is 70% GO for June 30
SpaceX had planned to launch their second dedicated rideshare mission named Transporter-2 with over 80 small satellites for government, military and commercial customers on a Falcon 9 first stage booster B1060 set to fly for the 8th time.
The rideshare strategy enables much cheaper cost rides to space for small payload customers by spreading out the launch cost amongst a multitude of customers from government, industry, academia and more, rather than buying a full price dedicated Falcon 9 flight.
The broad ranging payload is comprised of 88 small and nano satellites for a wide variety of commercial and government customers.
Three Starlink satellites are also encapsulated aboard among the 88.
“On board this launch are 85 commercial and government spacecraft (including CubeSats, microsats, and orbital transfer vehicles) and 3 Starlink satellites. While there are fewer spacecraft on board compared to Transporter-1, this mission is actually launching more mass to orbit for SpaceX’s customers,” SpaceX announced.
Among the satellites are the first five for the newly created Space Development Agency (SDA) which include Mandrake II, Laser Interconnect Networking Communications System (LINCS), and Prototype On-orbit Experimental Testbed (POET).
SDA aims to send up dozens of test satellites implementing new technology on a fast pace
Whenever it does happen this will count as SpaceX’s 20th launch of 2021 on the 68th flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
Transporter-2 will utilize booster B1060 which has flown seven times previously including launch of GPS III Space Vehicle 03, Turksat 5A, and five Starlink missions.
Transporter-1 had utilized a heavily reused and 5x flown very sooty booster 1058 which landed on the OCISLY droneship
By contrast for Transporter-2 the first stage will carry out a very exciting ‘Return to Launch Site’ (RTLS) landing at LZ-1 – creating a multitude of shocking sonic booms!
The four landing legs will be deployed just moments before touchdown at LZ-1 a few hundred feet above ground as the stage slows down during descent and passes through the sound barrier.
The Falcon 9 will launch on an until recently rare southerly polar trajectory flying south along Florida’s east coast past Miami and the Florida straits and over Cuba.
This marks the third southern launch trajectory used by SpaceX in the past year since August 2020.
Previously the southern corridor from Florida had not been used since 1969
The payloads will be deployed to a sun-synchronous polar orbit, similar orbit to the one used for Transporter 1.
Transporter-1 carried 143 nano and micro satellites as well as another 10 Starlinks encapsulated inside the nose cone.
The path to launch was cleared following a successful static hot fire test of the reused Falcon 9 first stage booster B1060 on June 22.
Watch my commentary about the Transporter-2 mission at WFTV ABC 9 Orlando:
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about SpaceX, Artemis and NASA missions, SLS, Orion, Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, Demo-2, ISS, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and more national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
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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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