SpaceX has confirmed that Sunday’s launch of its third contracted resupply mission to the International Station has been postponed due to a range asset issue. More information including a new target launch date will be posted here and at https://www.nasa.gov/spacex as it becomes available.
UPDATE – The Air Force said in a statement Thursday:
A mandatory range asset supporting the NROL-67 launch went offline, March 24, 2014. An investigation revealed a tracking radar experienced an electrical short, overheating the unit and rendering it inoperable. The outage resulted in an inability to meet minimum public safety requirements needed for flight, so the launch was postponed.
Initial assessment indicates repair of the tracking radar will take approximately three weeks. The Air Force is evaluating the feasibility of returning an inactive radar to full mission capability to resume operations sooner. The launch schedule impact is to be determined, pending resolution of the anomaly. Early indications are all launches scheduled for FY14 will be supported. More information will be provided as it becomes available.
SpaceX will target its next cargo mission launch to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, for 10:49 p.m. EDT, Sunday, March 30. An on-time launch would put the Dragon’s arrival at the station at about 7 a.m. Wednesday, April 2.
We’ll begin our continuous launch coverage at 9:45 p.m. and NASA Television’s launch coverage will kick off at the same time. This is the company’s third contracted resupply mission to the orbital laboratory. Should the launch be postponed, the next launch opportunity is 9:39 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, with blog and NASA TV coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m.
NASA TV also will air a prelaunch news conference at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 29 at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A 2 p.m. briefing on the science and technology cargo being delivered to the space station by SpaceX will follow.
From SpaceX: To ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance and allow additional time to resolve remaining open items, SpaceX is now targeting March 30 for the CRS-3 launch, with April 2 as a back-up. These represent the earliest available launch opportunities given existing schedules, and are currently pending approval with the Range.
Both Falcon 9 and Dragon are in good health; given the critical payloads on board and significant upgrades to Dragon, the additional time will ensure SpaceX does everything possible on the ground to prepare for a successful launch.
Additional details on exact liftoff time, press activities, etc. will be available as we get closer to launch.
The press kit for SpaceX-3 is out now and includes a wealth of details about the company’s Dragon spacecraft, Falcon 9 rocket and the payloads that will be taken to the International Space Station on this resupply mission. You can find the complete press kit here.
Florida at night as seen from the International Space Station, the destination of SpaceX-3.
The first launch weather forecast ahead of the SpaceX-3 cargo mission to the International Space Station sets out a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time, which remains 4:41 a.m. EDT. Thick clouds are seen as a potential obstacle according to the forecast. SpaceX-3 is the third commercial resupply mission to space station for SpaceX. During the mission, the Dragon capsule will deliver 4,969 pounds of cargo to the orbiting laboratory and return 3,578 pounds to Earth.
Here’s a complete schedule of our coverage plans for the March 16 launch of SpaceX-3 to the International Space Station. Liftoff remains slated for 4:41 a.m. eastern time.