It was a relatively quiet countdown last night, with SpaceX showing that they know what they’re doing and hitting all the milestones early during Crew-6’s launch preparations. Unfortunately, however, no good deed goes unpunished because the company ran into an issue when loading a rather nasty part of the propellant for Falcon 9’s launch.
In the final minutes of the count for the launch of SpaceX’s Crew-6 mission carrying four astronauts to the ISS, SpaceX held the count T-2:25 because of an issue loading TEA-TEB into the Falcon 9. As a result, SpaceX teams immediately began detanking the almost fully fueled rocket, requiring the astronauts to remain strapped in with the launch abort system armed. Only once the rocket and Dragon capsule are safed could crews return to the pad to help Crew-6 egress Endeavour.
I guess you can say we’ve been spoiled with SpaceX, with this being the first time the company had to scrub a crewed mission with the rocket being fueled. The last time SpaceX scrubbed a crewed launch was back to the first one, DM-2 in 2020, due to weather before fueling could begin.
SpaceX doesn’t just have to remove Crew-6 from Endeavour due to the scrub from the rocket, but any late load cargo like fresh fruit of temperature-sensitive experiments has to be removed too. Luckily, Crew-6 has already switched its sleep schedule over, something we can’t say for ourselves, so at least they will get to sleep in and wake up, hopefully, well-rested tomorrow.
What is TEA-TEB?
TEA-TEB, or Triethylaluminum-Triethylborane, yeah, that’s why we say TEA-TEB, is a chemical compound used to ignite the SpaceX Merlin engines both on the ground and during flight. This compound is injected into the combustion chamber with liquid oxygen just before the RP-1 is introduced into the mix. This allows for a smooth ignition of the engine, and without it would leave the Falcon 9 grounded, which is what we saw today.
You can sometimes see this happen during the launch and landing of SpaceX Falcon 9 and Heavy rockets with a quick green flash just before the engines spin up to full thrust.
24-hour reset for another late-night launch
[Update: SpaceX has decided to reattempt launch Thursday and 12:34 a.m. EST]
For those that stayed up late to see this launch, I guess your sleep schedule is already messed up, so it should be easier the second night, right? Tuesday morning will be the next opportunity for SpaceX to launch Crew-6 to the ISS if a 24-hour reset is planned. If that is the case, that will be a 1:22 a.m. EST launch time, however, this stretches the travel time out to be about 33 hours.