Rocket Lab pins down cause of launch abort


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Capitalism in space: Rocket Lab has identified the cause of yesterday’s abort of its Electron rocket, and is ready to proceed tomorrow with the launch.

Rocket Lab says its launch yesterday was aborted due to rising liquid oxygen (LOx) temperatures feeding into one of the Electron’s nine engines. The launch attempt was aborted two seconds before lift-off from its range on Mahia Peninsula between Gisborne and Napier.

It says it will attempt to launch again tomorrow – after 2.30pm – and that the 17m rocket or pad equipment wasn’t damaged.

The company said the slight LOx temperature increase was a result of a ”LOx chill-down bleed schedule” that was not compatible with the warm weather.

This is not that different than the kinds of issues SpaceX experienced in its early launch attempts of both its Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets. It appears that getting the temperature and pressure of the liquid oxygen right is critical, and requires some in use trials to figure it out. With SpaceX, they eventually were able to enhance the process enough to allow them to cool the oxygen to make it more dense and thus get more of it in the tanks to increase the rocket’s launch capacity.

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