SpaceX Updates: Launch Scrubs & More Dragon Cargo Missions

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX’s cancellation of a Falcon 9 launch on Thursday was the second scrub in 24 hours related to fueling problems.

The launch was canceled with 1 minute, 40 seconds left to go in the countdown. The problem related to loading of super cold “densified” liquid oxygen (LOX) that has been added to the newest variant of SpaceX’s launch vehicle.

The colder LOX allows for more to put placed in the fuel tank, giving the booster the ability to place larger satellites into orbit. The additional performance offsets the penalty paid by equipping the first stage with systems that allow it to land for later reuse.

SpaceX successfully launched the upgraded rocket for the first time in December. However, two launch attempts this week were scrubbed due to problems with the densified LOX.

The company has not announced a new launch date for the SES 9 communications satellite.

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NASA has awarded SpaceX five more Dragon resupply missions to the International Space Station at an estimated value of $700 million, Space News reports.

The space agency has awarded a total of 20 resupply missions to SpaceX under the original Commercial Resupply Services (CRS), which runs into 2019. The original contract signed in 2008 included 12 missions, but the number has been extended several times due to delays in the follow-on contract.

Last month, SpaceX received a commitment for a minimum of six Dragon cargo flights under the CRS-2 contract. Orbital ATK and Sierra Nevada Corporation also received contracts for six missions apiece. The new agreements run from late 2019 to 2024.