Today was meant to see the scheduled launch of the Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), which would send NASA’s shiny new reusable Orion spacecraft on its maiden test flight into space. However, the launch of the Orion craft from Cape Canaveral in Florida failed to proceed within the launch window from 7:05 a.m. EST to 9:44 a.m. EST, after multiple delays. It was supposed to launch as soon as the window opened at 7:05 a.m. EST. The launch was first delayed because there was a boat that wandered into the exclusion area around the cape; it had to be escorted away. Then, after appearing to be good to go at 7:17 a.m. EST, there was yet another delay. The countdown was stopped due to an automated sensor detecting that wind speeds had exceeded the acceptable limit. After getting another go-ahead for launch at 7:55 a.m. EST, once again, an automatic sensor detected winds stronger than the safety limit, and they aborted again. The situation at the Kennedy Space Center still remained optimistic, as the launch window could be extended until 9:44 a.m. EST, if necessary, and they figured there would be plenty of time for adjustment. Alas, this was not to be.
The countdown was put on extended hold, waiting for the winds to subside. During the wait, the core engine temperature was measured to be above range, but secondary measurements indicated all was within acceptable parameters. A new launch time was set for 8:26 a.m. EST and after one final check, they initiated another countdown to launch. However, it was put on hold yet again after a fill and drainage valve did not close on one of the rocket engines. To fix the problem, they cycled all of the fill and drainage valves on the first stage engines five times (that’s right, they turned it off and on again just like on The IT Crowd). With 20 minutes left in the launch window, they disabled the automatic wind monitoring software and switched to manual monitoring, and the launch time was set to the very end of the launch window at 9:44 a.m. EST.
However since the valve resets could not be completed, and the battery life on the camera declined, management felt it was best to abort the launch for today, and re-attempt it tomorrow after 24 hours. It is expected that the same launch window times will be used tomorrow. Hopefully, things go smoothly for NASA on Friday. As for today’s aborted launch, better safe than sorry.
Nur is a tinkerer of programmable things, an apprentice in an ancient order of technomages. He enjoys fantasy, sci-fi, comic books, and Lego in his spare time. His favourite authors are Asimov and Tolkien. He also loves Celtic and American folk music. You can follow him on twitter: @nurhussein