Because of an engine issue that caused Falcon 9 launch of a military GPS satellite to abort at T-2 seconds on October 2nd, SpaceX and NASA have decided to delay the next manned Dragon launch from October 31st “to early-to-mid November.”
The one to two week delay will give the company time to analyze the issue involving an “unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator” that are used to drive the rocket’s Merlin engine turbopumps.
It seems unlikely that this problem is systemic to all Merlin engines, considering the number of rocket launches SpaceX has successfully completed in the last four years. Each launch has used ten engines, with no evidence of this problem appearing previously.
At the same time, no one wants a problem on a manned flight. Better to completely understand why it happened on the GPS launch first before launching four astronauts on the rocket.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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