[amsat-florida] Re: Possible USAF Atlas Launch Tonight SCRUBBED

Andrew Glasbrenner glasbrenner at mindspring.com
Tue Mar 17 18:33:49 PDT 2009


>From "The Flame Trench" at Floridatoday.com:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Live At The Cape: Atlas Delay At Least 48 Hours


LIVE IMAGES: Refresh this page for updates and the latest still images from 
the Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Channel (left) and Launch Complex 41 
(right).

Launch of an Atlas V rocket and a new-generation military communications 
satellite is being delayed until at least Friday to give engineers time to 
investigate the failure of an upper stage engine valve.

The 19-story rocket and its payload -- a Wideband Global SATCOM 
spacecraft -- had been slated to blast off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape 
Canaveral Air Force Station at 9:24 p.m.

But a valve in the rocket's single Centaur upper stage engine sprang a leak 
about 20 minutes into fuel-loading operations. The leak was serious enough 
to prompt mission managers to immediately call a scrub.

Engineers estimate that it will take most of the night to drain propellant 
from the Centaur stage and then inert it to make certain no explosive gases 
remain within it.

The course of action likely will be to remove a box within the engine that 
holds the valve and try to determine what caused the leak. The timing of the 
next launch attempt will be dependent on how long it takes to execute a 
recovery plan.

Engineers also will be sorting out a couple of other problems with gaseous 
nitrogen and gaseous helium systems. Range safety officers also will need to 
resolve trouble with one of two instruments required to make certain command 
destruct signals are properly encoded. The destruct signals would be beamed 
up to the rocket if it careened out of control and threatened populated 
areas.

73, Drew 



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