Due to “subtle” engine problemsEngineers believe that the problem with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was resolved earlier this month, and if ongoing tests go well, NASA On November 14th, another Falcon 9 had reached the top, officials said Wednesday.
In the meantime, SpaceX “Crew-1” commander Michael Hopkins, pilots Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi entered initial containment last weekend, Corona virus All four make sure you don’t get a virus.
Taking off from the historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center is aimed at 7:49pm EST on Saturday, November 14th. When everything goes well, the Crew Dragon launches an automatic rendezvous, docking at the space station’s forward port 8-and-a. -30 minutes later, around 4:4am the next day.
If on-time launch is delayed due to bad weather or other issues, the crew will have a backup launch opportunity at 7:27pm on Sunday, November 15th, and will set up dock the next day If it does not fall off the ground by then, the crew will have to wait until the end of the Russian spacewalk on November 18th.
“The crew is doing well,” said Steve Stich, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager. “I put the crew in soft containment last weekend, starting to fix (engine) anomalies and finding flight paths on the 14th.
“They’re hearing what’s going on with the vehicle on a lot of telecons. We have a little more work to do about this engine and more, but we see a pretty good way for it (release). It’ll fly when ready.”
The NASA manager originally hoped to launch the SpaceX Crew-1 mission earlier this month. However, the flight was delayed to allow more time for the Rubins launch on October 14 and another Soyuz three-man crew to return to Earth on October 21, and it was interrupted by the last second Falcon 9 launch on October 3.
The Falcon 9, with the U.S. Space Force Global Positioning System navigation satellite, was intact, but flight was interrupted while engineers were working to figure out what went wrong and what was needed to avoid further problems.
SpaceX’s vice president of Build and Flight Reliability Hans Koenigsmann said at a teleconference Wednesday that the rocket’s flight computer issued an order to halt after detecting an abnormal pressure reading on a turbopump machine used by two of the rocket’s nine first-stage engines.
The suspicious engine was removed and shipped to SpaceX’s Texas flight test facility, where engineers could replicate the pressure readings.
Koenigsmann’s detailed inspection revealed a small amount of red lacquer, such as a nail polish used to clean parts after anodizing, which was not thoroughly cleaned and blocked the 1/16 inch wide vent line.
As a result, the “igniter fluid” used to rotate the turbopump reached the machine too quickly, interrupting the engine start sequence. If the flight computer hadn’t stopped firing, Koenigsmann said the engine in question could have been damaged while calling it a “hard start.”
“It’s not necessarily bad, but in most cases the engine will rattle and do some damage to the engine. In extreme cases it can do more damage. So in general, you don’t want it, you want a good start. “
After finding blocked vent lines on the two engines responsible for the shutdown, SpaceX reviewed the engine data of the Falcon 9 rocket fleet and found three more with similar problems. One is scheduled to be used to launch Earth Science satellites in California on November 10th and two at Crew-1 Falcon 9.
In all five cases, a blocked vent line was found on a new Merlin engine that has not yet flown into space.
Koenigsmann said SpaceX is working with the vendor to make sure that the hardware is more thoroughly cleaned and inspected before creating a new engine. The company is also re-evaluating other components that may be vulnerable to similar issues.
In any case, all five engines are being replaced with a thoroughly tested Merlin, known to be free of such blockages.
SpaceX plans to make another attempt to launch its satellite positioning system satellite next Thursday and will launch the Sentinel 6-Michael Freilich Earth Observation Satellite on November 10, sources said.
Stich confirms that the Crew-1 launch date is partly based on the results of the next week’s GPS launch and other unspecified changes are working as intended during piloting flights.
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