SpaceX Set for Good Friday Launch Attempt

The oft delayed SpaceX CRS-3 launch to ISS has been reset for tomorrow, and a Good Friday launch attempt, one which will hopefully bring a bit more “good” than the previous SES-8 Thanksgiving Day attempt.  That flight also resulted in a delay, but ultimately culminated in a flawless first commercial flight to GTO for SpaceX and the upgraded Falcon 9 V1.1.

Regarding the helium problem which led to Monday’s scrub, according to SpaceX:

“During Monday’s launch attempt, preflight checks detected that a helium valve in the stage separation pneumatic system was not holding the right pressure. This meant that the stage separation pistons would be reliant on a backup check valve.

No issue was detected with the backup valve and a flight would likely have been successful, but SpaceX policy is not to launch with any known anomalies. We have brought the vehicle back to horizontal and are replacing the faulty valve, as well as inspecting the whole system for anything that may have contributed to the valve not working as designed.”


NASA New Release:

The International Space Station Program and SpaceX have selected Friday, April 18 for the next launch attempt for the Falcon 9 rocket to send the Dragon cargo craft on the company’s third commercial resupply mission to the space station. Launch is scheduled for 3:25 p.m. EDT. NASA TV coverage will begin at 2:15 p.m.

A launch on Friday results in a rendezvous with the space station on Sunday, April 20 and a grapple at 7:14 a.m. NASA TV coverage will begin at 5:45 a.m. with berthing coverage beginning at 9:30 a.m.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron forecast predicts a 40 percent chance of favorable weather, with a chance of showers and thunderstorms that could result in violating the Thick Cloud, Lightning and Flight Through Precipitation rules.

SpaceX has settled on a backup launch date of Saturday, April 19 for the best pair of launch dates for the science payloads being delivered to the station. If needed, a Saturday launch would occur at 3:02 p.m. NASA TV coverage would begin at 2 p.m. This would be a three-day transit to the station instead of two days with grapple on Tuesday, April 22. For the backup opportunity on Saturday, there is a 70 percent chance of favorable weather with a chance of violating the Cumulus Cloud and Ground Winds rules.

If SpaceX launches Friday, a contingency spacewalk to replace a failed multiplexer-demultiplexer will be conducted on Wednesday, April 23. If SpaceX scrubs Friday and attempts to launch Saturday, the contingency spacewalk moves earlier to Sunday, April 20.

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