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SpaceX Aborted Its Third Attempt to Launch Falcon 9 Rocket Due to Technical Difficulties After a Delay

February 29
6:07 AM 2016

SpaceX aborted its third rocket launch on Sunday seconds before the liftoff. The Falcon 9 rocket was supposed to be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station before the operation was aborted. It was the rocket's second launch of the year.

The Falcon 9 rocket was supposed to be launched carrying the nearly 12,000-pound SES-9 satellite. The commercial communications satellite SES-9 is owned by Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES. It was set to lift the satellite into an orbit more than 22,000 miles over the equator.

Previously, the rocket was set to launch at Wednesday, before it was scrubbed half-an-hour before the launch window opened. The launching schedule was moved to Thursday, but it was once again aborted only minutes before the liftoff. According to USAToday, in both cases the company mentioned challenges keeping the two-stage rocket's supply of liquid oxygen at cold-enough temperatures.

To address the problem, SpaceX already upgraded the rocket's liquid oxygen system. The new upgraded Falcon 9 uses a liquid oxygen called the cryo liquid oxygen (LOX) that was chilled almost to its freezing point, making it more dense. The upgraded rocket could generate more thrust, allowing a better chance for SpaceX to try to land the first-stage boosters. Even so, the launched was aborted for the third time due to other technical difficulties.

Yahoo Finance reported that the problem began when a boat strayed too close to the danger zone where the rocket was supposed to land the booster. At first, the launch was set to be temporarily postponed until the boat leaves the area. However, in about 40 minutes waiting for the boat to move while restarting the countdown sequence, an unexpected technical failure happened to the rocket's fuel.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted moments after the halt, "@SpaceX launch aborted on low thrust alarm. Rising oxygen temps due to hold for boat and helium bubble triggered alarm." The SpaceX official Twitter account also updated, "Ignition sequence aborted in final seconds of countdown; update pending from launch team after data review."

The launch was aborted abruptly, only moments before the liftoff, because the team didn't know that the fuel had warmed by the time the rocket was to go for launch. The abort was done by the rocket's internal computer after the countdown clock reached T-00:00:00.

According to Business Insider, the company already stated that it has low expectations of success at the landing. However, SpaceX will still move forward to provide a viable method and more affordable spaceflight by reusing the booster.

Due to technical difficulties after an unexpected halt, SpaceX aborted its third attempt to launch the Falcon 9 rocket. The two-stage rocket will be relaunched at an unspecified date but soon. 

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