Rocket leak delays space station delivery launch (Update)

Apr 14, 2014 by Marcia Dunn
This Tuesday, March 26, 2013 file photo provided by NASA shows the release of the SpaceX Dragon-2 spacecraft from the International Space Station. NASA is pressing ahead, on Monday, April 14, 2014, with the planned launch of a supply ship despite a critical computer outage at the International Space Station, promising the situation is safe. (AP Photo/NASA)

A space station cargo ship will remain Earthbound for a while longer.

With just over an hour remaining, the Space X company called off Monday's planned launch because of a rocket leak. A new launch date was not set; the next opportunity would be Friday.

Officials said a helium leak in the first-stage of the unmanned Falcon rocket forced the postponement. The launch already had been delayed a full month for various reasons.

Over the weekend, NASA almost postponed the launch because of a computer outage at the International Space Station. But it decided Sunday that everything would be safe for the arrival of the Dragon capsule and its 2½ tons of supplies.

The computer, a critical backup, failed outside the space station Friday as flight controllers were trying to activate it for a routine software load.

It's the first breakdown ever of one of these so-called space station MDMs, or multiplexer-demultiplexers, used to route computer commands for a wide variety of systems. Forty-five MDMs are scattered around the orbiting lab. The failed one is located outside and therefore will require spacewalking repairs.

The Dragon capsule holds a gasket-like material for next week's computer replacement. This new material was rushed to the launch site over the weekend and loaded into the Dragon.

NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Steven Swanson will perform the spacewalk next Tuesday—regardless of whether the Dragon flies by then. It will take several days to get the replacement computer ready for installing, thus the one-week wait before the job, NASA's Kenny Todd, a station operations manager, said Monday.

SpaceX—Space Exploration Technologies Corp. of California—is one of two American companies hired by NASA to fill the cargo gap left when the space shuttles retired in 2011. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Virginia is the other.

Explore further: SpaceX reschedules space station resupply launch

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Requiem
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 14, 2014
Wow, this just got delayed AGAIN. This time due to a leak in the Falcon's helium tank. To a day that is supposed to have bad weather, so probably another delay.

After waiting 2+ months due to 2 real delays and one false alarm for such an exciting launch, you'd think that SpaceX would be ready to go. I'm probably their biggest fanboy but I'm seriously annoyed right now, this is just sheer incompetence and crap preparation activities. They are better than this, it's really sad to see. Especially if they think they are going to be using Falcon 9Rs 1,000 times each, which Elon Musk has actually spoken about in the context of $50,000 launches. That idea is straight up laughable given today's events. Maybe you should work on your welding skills before you take to space, Elon.

I mean %*#(*%& seriously. They can't even figure out how to test for a leak in a simple tank while sitting still at 1bar of pressure GIVEN ALMOST THREE MONTHS OF DELAYS and they think that these things will make it through max-q 1,000 times each? Hahahaha! Keep in mind that we're talking about one of the most basic components of a very complicated system here...

Weak. And extremely disappointing that I feel this way about them right now.
philw1776
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2014
Emotional over reaction, but your point is valid that the engineering unreality of repeated rapid cycle launches of a vehicle is marketing hype at the moment.
Lex Talonis
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 14, 2014
Why in the fuck are they NOT using simple solid rocket boosters stages and a liquid fuel for the final incoming part of the flight.

Black powder and bamboo sticks are cheap - reliable and has an indefinite shelf life if kept dry.

While huge bottles are hard to come by, drilling a big hole in the ground is easy.
ScottyB
5 / 5 (3) Apr 15, 2014
@Requiem Incompetence?? I am sure like me you would rather see a successful launch than a catastrophic failure resulting in an explosion. THIS is why SpaceX has the highest safety record around, yes i agree it is a little infuriating to have it delayed again and again but i would rather than than something to go wrong.

Well done to them for spotting the leak before it was too late, i can not wait to see this bird come down and make a safe splash down in the ocean. Go SpaceX

Requiem
1 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2014
@Requiem Incompetence?? I am sure like me you would rather see a successful launch than a catastrophic failure resulting in an explosion. THIS is why SpaceX has the highest safety record around, yes i agree it is a little infuriating to have it delayed again and again but i would rather than than something to go wrong.

Well done to them for spotting the leak before it was too late, i can not wait to see this bird come down and make a safe splash down in the ocean. Go SpaceX


Uhh, my definition of "before it's too late" would ideally be BEFORE it's sitting on the pad with less than an hour to go for liftoff, especially after however many months they had legitimately scheduled for prep and the additional 2-3 months of delays???