Last night, on November 4th, the unfortunate trend of Ground Systems Equipment scrubbing Space Coast rocket launches, continued with the Atlas V: NROL-101 mission.
Following a 24 hour delay related to a Fairing Environmental problem (which was subsequently resolved), launch provider United Launch Alliance made the call to proceed with launch operations, and rolled the Atlas V- 531 launch vehicle to the Pad on Wednesday morning ahead of the NROL-101 mission. Once the vehicle arrived back at the launch mount, Pre-launch operations immediately commenced and proceeded throughout the day, seemingly without issue.
Media was able to visit the rocket at SLC-41 and set remote cameras, just prior to launch director, Tom Heter III and Weather Officer Jessica Williams giving the GO to proceed with the afternoons countdown operations.
At 3:35pm, the count exited it's first planned hold when ULA Launch Conductor Scott Barney gave the GO to begin fueling operations. Then, just 25 minutes later at 4:00pm, ULA announced that the cutdown was entering an unplanned hold at just T- 1hour & 58min until the original Lift-Off T-0 of 5:58pm. It was stated that a ground valve issue on the LoX system for the Atlas V first stage was the reason for the hold.
As Launch Media began to depart for the SLC-41 Press Site in hopes of still covering the mission, ULA dispatched Ground Personnel to the Pad to examine the Valve issue and Troubleshoot in hopes to still fly Atlas within it's nearly 3 hour launch window, which extended to 8:10pm. With Teams unable to resolve the issue at the Pad, and not enough time being allotted for further fueling operations, Mission Director Chad Davis and LD Tom Heter III declared a Scrub for the evening.
With neighboring company, Space X, already having a launch attempt reserved on the Range for GPS-III-Sv04, ULA's next launch attempt was forced to recycle 48 hours. No Official statement has been released from ULA given the status of the Ground Hardware issue.
NROL-101 is now NET Friday, 11/06/20 from SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
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