SpaceX Delays Falcon Launch After Test Vehicle Explosion

Launch of SpaceX’s next Falcon 9 rocket is on hold, pending a review after a related test vehicle self-destructed during a flight test last week.

The company had planned to launch its 12th Falcon 9 rocket early Wednesday to put a communications satellite into orbit for Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings. It would have been the second launch this month for Hong Kong-based AsiaSat, which is paying SpaceX about $110 million for the two flights.

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SpaceX decided late Tuesday afternoon to postpone the launch so engineers could “triple-check” if there are any failure scenarios that have been overlooked.

Initial analysis shows no direct link between the problem that caused SpaceX’s Falcon 9R development vehicle to self-destruct on Friday about 17 seconds after launch from the company’s McGregor, Texas, facility.

The Falcon 9R problem stemmed from a blocked sensor port, company founder and chief executive Elon Musk said in a statement released late Tuesday.

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“Had the same … problem occurred with an operational Falcon 9, it would have been outvoted by several other sensors. That voting system was not present on the test vehicle,” Musk wrote.

“What we do want to triple-check is whether even highly improbable corner case scenarios have the optimal fault detection and recovery logic. This has already been reviewed by SpaceX and multiple outside agencies, so the most likely outcome is no change,” he added.

The extra analysis will delay the AsiaSat launch one to two weeks.


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