Taking a Breath, SpaceX Postones Next Attempt Until Early July

It was a weekend that most of us would rather forget. For SpaceX and Orbomm, as well as disappointed supporters, and more than a few in the space media who let slip their frustrations, and their bias, it was not a pretty scene.

Three launch attempts, three scrubs, and a virtual media blackout on Saturday which seemed to overshadow everything, combined to momentarily place a dark cloud over the NewSpace world. For some, three more seconds of defense by the U.S. team in Sunday’s World Cup thriller might have been a welcome palliative, but that too was denied.

So, even if the only ones going to bed happy Sunday night were those who are emotionally or financially committed to the status quo in the launch industry, (and of course the one nation which could teach us all a bit about what it means to be committed to exploration, Portugal) a new has brought some welcome news, another launch delay. This time it is probably a very good thing.

Yesterday’s announcement from SpaceX

“SpaceX is taking a closer look at a potential issue identified while conducting pre-flight checkouts during yesterday’s countdown. SpaceX will stand down Tuesday while our engineering teams evaluate further, which will also allow the Range to move forward with previously scheduled maintenance. We are currently targeting the first week of July and will work with the Range to confirm the next available launch opportunities.”

Presumably, the “stand down” will give engineers a chance to finally chase down what has been the latest source of difficulty with this particularly problematic launch, as well perhaps, as the opportunity to rethink its launch coverage strategy going forward.  In baseball terms, and regardless of the decisions behind it, Saturday’s “no show” was a rare unforced error by SpaceX, one which could not have come at a worse time, only days after a ULA, which most assuredly had a great weekend, started a new PR campaign as devoid of substance as the weekend was of launches. Providing competitors an issue, transparency, where one did not previously exist, was not helpful.

While there is no word yet on when a new attempt might take place, one would hope that orbital mechanics would allow for the next attempt to take place at some time other than the late afternoon, early evening hours when the chances for storms are generally at their greatest.

Oh, and one more thing. Since some press outlets are reporting on Orbcomm’s stock and a drop in price following a long, frustrating weekend, here’s a tip for you. Buy.

Posted in: SpaceX

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