The first flight of Space Exploration Technologies’ (SpaceX) 570kg (1,254lb) to low-Earth-orbit Falcon 1 launcher has been delayed until mid-December following liquid oxygen (LOX) tank and computer problems.

FALCON1Lift-off was originally scheduled for 21:00 GMT on 25 November from its launch pad at the US Army’s Reagan Test Range on Omelek island, one of the Marshall islands of Kwajalein Atoll.

But that was delayed by 24h because of US Army missile defence test preparations. Then, at T-minus 10min, the countdown was put on hold.

“We experienced an anomaly with the main engine computer that requires further investigation and was arguably reason in itself to postpone the launch,” says SpaceX. “We anticipate a new launch attempt in mid-December, depending on the timing of LOX resupply from Hawaii. Our LOX plant on Omelek can only produce about 1t per day.”

A manual vent valve on an auxiliary LOX fill tank had been incorrectly set to vent. The time it took to correct the problem resulted in significant LOX boil-off.

Falcon 1 is a two-stage rocket powered by LOX and purified, rocket-grade kerosene.

The customer for the mission is the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency and the US Air Force Academy, and the payload is the FalconSat-2 satellite.

Source: Flight International