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