SpaceX Falcon 9 Delayed Until First Week in July

Falcon 9 lifts off with the Thaicom-6 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon 9 lifts off with the Thaicom-6 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX Launch Update

SpaceX is taking a closer look at a potential issue identified while conducting pre-flight checkouts during yesterday’s countdown. SpaceX will stand down Tuesday while our engineering teams evaluate further, which will also allow the Range to move forward with previously scheduled maintenance. We are currently targeting the first week of July and will work with the Range to confirm the next available launch opportunities.

  • windbourne

    Take your time. Please.
    Look, SpaceX, you have a nearly perfect record. Far better to be later while you solve any left over issues, than to lose the launch and the mission.

    As to the pressure from ULA, USAF, etc, ignore it.
    And I have no doubt that there is pressure there.

  • mzungu

    Any bets on how many they can pull off this year? Manifest says 1 every month for the rest of 2014. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Not saying space launch is easy.. but I think that 2026 Mars date might take longer than expected in real life…. ๐Ÿ˜›

  • windbourne

    Hmmmm. I have argued against that a year ago (was that with you?).
    I have to wonder. However, there are many many years to go before 2026.

  • Robert Gishubl

    It is better to be safe than sorry and it is still early days but if the air is to re-use rockets and progress to an aircraft type reliability then SpaceX really needs to work on its launch reliability. They need to investigate these problems and find out how to prevent them from re-occurring.
    This is unfortunately where the Silicone Valley work culture may need to split between development of new products and delivery of contracted services. Maybe 2 divisions? Development and Production with different cultures, both striving to be the best but development new, innovative and cutting edge while Production needs to be Predictable and Reliable which means safe delivery of launch services in a planned orderly manner with a bit of conservative planning to allow individual missions to slip without impacting follow on missions. Multiple Launch sites will help but also thorough Quality processes with Factory acceptance testing designed to ensure reliable operation first time every time.
    Other Launch providers regularly suffer delays because it is difficult but SpaceX is setting the bar much higher than the others so more is expected of them. Is it fair? probably not but then the world is not fair either.
    SpaceX needs to look at its promised delivery and work out what it can realistically deliver taking into account the probability of weather and equipment delays and stop promising the best case scenario and then missing deadline after deadline. Even though the final development is still very fast compared to traditional approach SpaceX is seen as under delivering because they promised too much too soon.

  • BeanCounterFromDownUnder

    Mostly agree.
    However, SpaceX are underdelivering on launch schedule but still delivering on mission success therefore I’d say that the QC and QA is fine since they are identifying issues and fixing them before any impact on mission success.
    I know which one I’d count more important.
    Cheers.

  • Robert Gishubl

    The only problem is they are catching the problems late, just before launch rather than at the factory/test stand. If they want airline type reliability they need QC & QA that finds components that might cause problems in service before they get to the launch pad. It is a tough challenge and a higher level of performance than the other launch providers but that is what SpaceX are saying, so it becomes the expectation.
    It is more perception that SpaceX are not delivering on its promise. Though they are delivering more than others SpaceX is not delivering on all of its promises so that opens the opportunity for criticism that they will not deliver on other promises as well.

  • BeanCounterFromDownUnder

    Hi Robert.
    Yes they are catching problems late (better late than never) however let’s look at an example, say the thruster valve in the first Dragon mission. That was an situation where testing did not show up the fault and it occurred in-flight, however later analysis showed that some specific testing would have and that mod’s by the manufacturer were the root cause. SpaceX brought that activity in-house, corrected the issue and have not had another since.

    The point I’m making is that these things may be considered iterative. You have to fly a number of times before you exhausted (perhaps) a whole range of conditions that are required to show up issues. By flying, I mean from initial stage / engine testing to on-pad pre-launch through the entire launch regime.

    IMO SpaceX are going to continue to ‘discover’ issues for next dozen flights particularly if there are any further mod’s which seems likely.

    Then a whole new ball-game when they start to reuse their first stage.

    A final comment is the proof of your belief concerning perception with which I agree wholeheartedly. Their customers are not leaving as many predicted. They’re prepared to hang-tough while SpaceX continues to work their vehicles and learn their lessons in the real world and work to reduce spaceflight cost. That’s the real means to EM’s end-game plan.

    Anyway looks like launches are going to remain interesting with breath-holding for a while yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Cheers.

  • therealdmt

    Reuseability won’t provide much of the expected benefits (theoretically, Musk recently said, we could relaunch later the same day) if, along with weather and range scheduling, and range technical issues, and payload issues, there are also rocket issues that lead to months long delays between re-flights.

    Anyways, like you said, it’s early days. And they’re working on the range scheduling by building their own launch sites, and they haven’t even returned a first stage yet.

    It’s just interesting to see how far anyone is from truly routine access to space, and why.

    One thing I’m thinking, only semi-related, is that for routine access to space, besides reuseable, low maintenance, high-reliability vehicles flying from dedicated ranges, they’ll also need

    1) improved assurance on payload integration and condition, and
    2) all-weather rockets! It’s only ever going to get so routine if they can’t fly when it’s windy or cold, or cloudy or there are icing conditions

  • mzungu

    Hahaha, probably. I expect a pretty linear growth of number of launches. Two more for the rest of the year, Max 3. All the aero proj that I was involved with had always been late. ๐Ÿ˜€ I thought it was because of me. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Elon’s date with that Martian girl is going to have to wait….because , so far he had been dealing pretty much with well establish technology that had been around since the 60’s. That Martian girls is not going to put out, unless he show them something new and far bigger. so, it’s going to be much, much later….specially if he needs them govn dollars, which he had shown that he desperately needs.

    You do remember the original SpaceX manifest was for 12 launches in 2014, right… ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Robert Gishubl

    I agree, but IMO SpaceX need to be more conservative in the promises they make. Now they have moved from the speculative developer with no experience to an operator they want people to rely on thier public statements need to be more reliable.

  • windbourne

    380 and 787 come quickly to mind.
    SpaceX is shaking down a relatively new rocket. This one has launched 4xs. I HOPE that they will quit making change to it once they have it ready to do, at least for the current set of flights.
    They need a steady production schedule. And I will say that if they can move to a launch / 2 weeks, then once the F9R comes about, it will be easy enough to move to once every 2 days.

  • windbourne

    I will be SHOCKED if they only have 3 more launches.
    I think that they will beat 6 more.

    And yes, all aviation/aero projects tend to take longer than what is promised. Personally, I think that Musk is closer to his promise than what regular companies have been.

    For example, he has launch 4 V1.1 in about 9 months. Whenever other companies have fairly new rockets, it still take 2-4 years to get to 4 launches.

    And lastly, I thought that the manifest was for something like 14 launches in 2014. Right?

  • mzungu

    I counted 12, maybe they revised it, didn’t keep count.

    http://www.spacex.com/missions

  • James

    I’d say windy and cold are all a matter of extreme but in brownsville i don’t see the icy happening,