Space X and the Rose Colored Glasses

Thursday evening couldn’t have been more of a nail biter for all of us watching the Falcon 9 “launch” at launch pad SLC-40 in Cape Canaveral, Fl. After Wednesdays scrub due to weather we eagerly awaited the rescheduled launch on Thursday. It seemed all systems were go, weather was at 80% go and all checks were green.

Or so we thought…

Via Space X

At T-Minus one minute and forty-one seconds an abort was called.

After I realized I wasn’t breathing, I realized I was cussing, what the hell just happened?! Twitter was exploding with the abort call and then the reason started rolling in, a LOX fueling issue. This is where my frustration grew, I started questioning why and how this could have happened so close to launch? Not enough fuel? How does this get over looked? I started to see people making excuses for Space X and that is when I realized people look at Space X with “rose colored glasses”.

I was hoping I would see someone question the same thing I was questioning. How does

Via Space X

something such as “enough fuel” slip past the professionals hired to handle this? Then I started thinking, had this been NASA, heads would be rolling and no one would be making excuses for the oversight. The way I envision it is Space X is the media darling while NASA is the redheaded stepchild. With all this being said I need to make something perfectly clear, I support Space X but when I see a glaring issue not being addressed that’s when I speak up.

Then this was brought to my attention:

“SpaceX engineers struggled to master the handling of the super-cold densified propellants at the Falcon 9 launch pad before the maiden flight of the upgraded rocket in December, but the rocket successfully took off the first time it received propellants on a real launch attempt.

The launch team updated the Falcon 9’s countdown procedures to account for the sensitivity of the super-chilled propellants. Instead of loading the propellants three hours before liftoff, the upgraded Falcon 9 receives its fuel in the final 30 minutes of the countdown to minimize the time the cryogenic liquid sits inside the rocket tanks and warms up in the mild ambient temperatures of Florida’s Space Coast.” (Via SpaceFlight Now)

So in December Space X struggled with the exact same issue with the propellants but failed to realize it could be an issue again. My question is how do you make another fueling mistake when you already had one to teach you a lesson?

Listening to the audio of the abort call via Space X I truly wondered how anyone could make excuses. They were finishing the first and second fueling stages when they realized while evaluating how much time they had left they may not have loaded enough fuel. At that time the team decided to hold the count down.

Let that sink in.

Rachelle Williams


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