WASHINGTON – NASA is delaying the launch of an ocean science satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket, but says that delay will not affect another launch of the Falcon 9 on a commercial crew mission.
The agency announced on November 3 that it has delayed the launch of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite on a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California from November 10 to November 21. due to the delay, the agency said, is so that SpaceX has time to replace two engines in the early stages of the missile.
The performance of Falcon 9’s Merlin engines has been under scrutiny since the cessation of launch seconds before the scheduled takeoff of Falcon 9 bringing with the 3 October GPS satellite to protect parts of engines as they are anodized to resist corrosion. The lacquer was not properly cleaned after anodizing, clogging the exhaust valve in the gas generator of one of the Merlin engines during this period.
At its October 28 briefing, NASA said it was replacing two Merlin engines in the Falcon 9 boosters that would launch the Crew-1commercial crew mission, currently scheduled for November 14. from the Kennedy Space Center. At the time, they said they were replacing an engine on the first-stage Falcon 9 for the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, but they were still testing engines on that turbocharger.
Prior to the press conference, NASA indicated that the launch of the Sentinel-6 would take place first and that NASA would review data from the launch before deciding to launch a Crew-1 mission. But at that briefing, agency officials said Crew-1 did not need to wait for the Sentinel-6 to launch. “Right now, it’s not a difficult bar between these missions,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for human discovery and operations. “We’ll do both missions when the time is right.”
Instead, agency officials said they want to launch GPS 3 first. Steve Stich, NASA’s commercial crew program manager, said: “One of the engines that we are installing at the early stage has a little bit of change that we’d like to see first is flying over porcelain. par GPS 3. “We want to see that a mission will fly before we fly the crew.”
At the time of the press conference, SpaceX was not yet scheduled to launch GPS 3. However, after successfully testing the static rocket of the boosters on October 31, SpaceX announced that the launch was now underway. rescheduled on November 5.
NASA, in its statement of the Sentinel-6 launch delay, said that the Crew-1 mission remained on schedule on Nov. 14. The four-man crew entered the quarantine before launching on October 31. and will arrive at the Kennedy Space Center for final review of prelaunch preparations on November 8.