Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The launch was scheduled for around 5:00 pm and I liveblogged the launching below. It was canceled but information is still coming in on what the problem was and when the next launch will be so I will continue to update the post throughout the remainder of the day. For some more information on the rocket itself see the Wikipedia page here.
11:00 pm or so: An article here says that an official announcement of the problem with the launch will be made tomorrow at 10:30 am, which would be evening in the US (9:30 pm in New York). Another one here says that the soonest another launch could happen would be in three days, and more if the launch vehicle has to be taken apart. We'll find out the details tomorrow morning then, and that's probably the extent of what we're going to find out today.
9:00 pm: Watching the news now and they say the problem was with overly low pressure of a high-pressure tank that was to move the valves of the launcher. The Russians involved with the launch are also saying that another launch should be possible in a few days after the valves are fixed, perhaps next Wednesday (exactly one week after today), although some others are saying that the launch may not be until September.
8:54 pm: This article says that they expect another launch attempt will be possible within the next few days. First the exact glitch needs to be found though and they haven't announced exactly what the problem was yet.
8:12 pm: Watching the news now where they are all talking about the delayed launch. Some are lamenting that the rocket is only composed of some 80% domestic technology. I think the numbers are something like 60% domestic technology for the first stage and 100% for the second. Another one says that Korea intends to spend 1 trillion won (almost a billion dollars) on space development by 2016.
7:29 pm: An article here mentions a statement from the centre that these types of delays are common amongst spacefaring countries, which is very true.
6:55 pm: We know that the problem was with the launching sequence, but this article says that there are 2000 types of data to be looked over which is what is making it take so long to find out exactly where the problem was.
6:01 pm: An article here references someone at the space centre saying that the problem was software-related, an error in the software controlling the launch time for the automatic sequence from the control centre. Not sure if that is the official word or not.
5:26 pm: All the VIPs have left the seats and no word on exactly what the technical problem was. A bit more talking about how it sucks that the launch was scrubbed and since there is no word on when the announcement will be made the broadcast has just ended. As I wrote below, I'll be updating the post as soon as we find out what the problem was and when the next launch will be. One article here says that the projected economic benefit from a successful launch would be up to 2.4 trillion won, or $1.9 billion USD. Benefits would be in national branding, technological spinoffs, etc.
5:17 pm: The director of the space centre Lee Ju-jin (이주진) just said that there will not be another launch attempt today and they are still looking at the problem. Here's what he looks like if you're curious.
5:09 pm: They're still talking about what the technical problem might be, and who knows how long it will take to find it or determine the next launch date. Not much more to liveblog about at the moment, but I have the TV on so I'll update at soon as they find out what the problem is.
5:06 pm: Ah, it was a "technical problem" with the automatic launching system, so apparently not with the rocket itself. Now they're lifting up the blue claws of the rocket erector to take it down. Sigh.
5:04 pm: Here comes the official announcement...the director of the space centre just made it but the reporters couldn't hear him on the microphone with the bad acoustics in the room. Heh.
4:57 pm: Looks like the fuel is going to be removed from the rocket soon. Apparently that means that a launch won't be able to happen for at least another four days. Still waiting for an official announcement on what happened.
4:53 pm: The countdown has stopped at T-7:56. Not sure what the reason is yet, whether this is a delay or a scrub. Could be a lot of reasons such as an airplane entering the no fly area. Still waiting for the reason for this.
4:52 pm: The liquid oxygen plume from the side of the rocket can barely be seen now...
4:51 pm: More numbers - no ships allowed within a 3 km radius of the launching area, contact with the satellite will take place 13 hours after launch...
4:48 pm: Lots of numbers now as we wait. Engine firing will start 3.8 seconds before launch, this is the result of 7 years of work, Korea and Russia decided to cooperate on the rocket in 2004, Korea began its first formal research into rocketry in 1988...
4:45 pm: T-14. Still no problems whatsoever.
4:43 pm: All systems now ready for launch. Automatic launch procedure to start in 15 minutes, after which it becomes quite difficult to stop the launch.
4:41 pm: Still waiting for final confirmation, looking at the people in the VIP seats. All old men. Switching back to the rocket and there's still not a cloud in the sky...tum te tum...
4:37 pm: Just said that they will confirm the launch time in about three minutes and there don't seem to be any problems with the projected 5 pm launch. The space centre has a media centre and they're talking with a reporter that is waiting on final confirmation.
4:36 pm: Talking now about how most countries have failed in their first rocket launches, but also noting that many of these were back in the 50s and 60s and technology has developed considerably since then.
4:32 pm: Talking with a reporter in the area that is with a group of people at a beach where the rocket launch will be able to be seen. Around 26 minutes to launch, though we're still waiting for confirmation on the exact time.
4:28 pm: Now switched to a woman giving an overview of how the rocket is going to launch and the facilities at the space centre. Here's an overview of the area from Google Maps for you.
View Larger Map
4:25 pm: Still no confirmation on if 5 pm is going to be the exact time.
4:23 pm: Weather is still good, not a cloud in the sky. The rocket can be launched in a temperature of up to 35 degrees and it's 28.3 in Jeollanam-do in the south of the country where the rocket is being launched from, with wind at 4.4 m/s, well within the maximum range of 15 m/s.
4:22 pm: Some basic facts about the rocket as we wait: 140 tonnes, 33 metres in height, and is carrying a 100 kg payload. Half of the rocket was developed with Russian technology and the other half with Korean technology. Fueling of the rocket finished at 3:53 pm. Everybody's excited and nervous.
4:21 pm: Showing about two dozen staff members in the Naro Space Center keeping an eye on the launch, which is being shown on ten screens of various size in front of them.
4:19 pm: They are now starting to check the upper part and range system of the rocket now.
4:17 pm: Coverage of the launch has been going on for at least a few hours now, and launch is set to happen in 42 minutes. On SBS they have Yi So-yeon (the first Korean in space) as well with the other commentators.