THUNDER BAY — This morning half a second before the scheduled launch, the SpaceX rocket launch was scrubbed. The mission to send the first unmanned commercial spacecraft to the International Space Station was aborted at liftoff today after a computer detected an engine problem.
“The next launch attempt could come as early as Tuesday, May 22, but that determination won’t be made until the engine itself is inspected, said Gwynne Shotwell, president of Space Exploration Technologies of Hawthorne, Calif., known as SpaceX. There also is an opportunity May 23.
“We had a nominal ignition for all nine (engines),” Shotwell added. “Engine 5 started fine and (its chamber pressure) started trending high.”
Shotwell said the high pressure could be the result of high temperatures possibly from too little fuel flowing into the engine, though it is too early to know for sure. “We’re going to have to spend more time looking at the data.”
The rocket was poised on Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Saturday morning for the attempt. Its hangar is next to the launch pad. Shotwell said the company is prepared to take the engine out of the rocket if it needs to and put in an engine already at the Cape.
SpaceX states, “We stand at the dawn of an exciting new era in space travel: one in which NASA and commercial companies work in partnership to provide rapid advances in space transportation. This SpaceX mission is a milestone in that transition, marking the first time in history that a commercial company will attempt to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station, something only a few governments have ever accomplished. This is a demonstration mission, a test flight primarily designed to provide NASA and SpaceX with valuable insight to ensure successful future missions”.
Space flight has always presented challenges.
The early days of space exploration presented major challenges This Smithsonian Snapshot marked the May 18, 1969 anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 10 mission with an astronaut’s space meal from that mission.
The Apollo 10 spacecraft launched from Cape Kennedy at 12:49 p.m. EST with commander Thomas Stafford, command module pilot John Young, and lunar module pilot Gene Cernan. This liftoff marked the fourth Apollo launch in seven months. Its purpose was to serve as a complete dry run for the Apollo 11 mission, the first mission to land humans on the Moon.
Each crew member was supplied with three meals per day, which provided approximately 2,800 calories.
This photo shows John Young’s Meal B lunch for mission Day 9. The mission only lasted eight days—he did not eat this food, but astronauts were provided extra supplies if they had to stay in space longer. It contains cocoa, salmon salad, sugar cookie cubes, grape punch and hand wipes.
Likely many people remember ‘TANG’ which was commonly at the time assumed to have been developed for the space missions. That is an urban myth. NASA shares, “In 1962, when astronaut John Glenn performed eating experiments in orbit, Tang was selected for the menu, launching the powdered drink’s heightened public awareness”.
The reason for this was that while the early space ships could produce water for drinking, the astronauts didn’t like the taste of it, and TANG was added to the water to take away the bad taste.
Meals wise, the early space travellers did not dine at any 5-star restaurants, the dehydrated foods and snacks were all vacumn packed. Meals were sorted by day and designated for each astronaut with a corresponding piece of Velcro—white for mission commander, blue for command module pilot and red for lunar module pilot.
This meal package allows Smithsonian curators to demonstrate the special packaging and food processing required for eating in the reduced gravity of space.
This item was transferred from NASA to the National Air and Space Museum in 1981. To learn more about the Apollo 10 mission, visit the National Air and Space Museum’s Apollo Program website.
With files from Newswise and NASA.gov