Over the weekend, SpaceX filled in some of the specifics regarding the recent decision to delay the launch of TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSAT, manufactured by Thales, due to what has been reported as a problem with helium pressurizing bottles on the Falcon 9 first stage for the mission. According to Space News‘ Jeff Foust, SpaceX spokesman John Taylor said the issue wasn’t with the bottles themselves, but rather other bottles from a similar lot that failed testing at the company’s assembly plant. Taylor is quoted saying, “We identified a potential condition that could be shared with those on board the Thales vehicle.”
This should clear up some confusion between the initial reports that the helium bottles on the flight vehicle experienced a problem that requried replacement and statement by SpaceX V.P. at the Satellite 2015 conference that an “anomaly” at the factory prompted the delay.
Launch of the Thales satellite is now targeted for no earlier than April 24, a slip from the original launch date of March 21. This will allow SpaceX to launch the Dragon CRS-6 mission on April 10. It’s carrier rocket is unaffected by the helium bottle issue.
The delay means that the Air Force’s GPS IIF-9 satellite stands next to launch from Cape Canaveral on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Medium+. That launch is scheduled for March 25 at 2:36 pm EDT. The L-3 weather forecast predicts an 80% probability of acceptable weather during the 18 minute long launch window.
(Source: Space News)
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