SpaceX to replace two engines of Falcon 9 before next team mission

SpaceX will replace two engines on its Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket will be carrying four astronauts to ISS.

A report from The Verge also suggests that the engineers have found some additional cleaning fluid in their engines.

A “good abort” by SpaceX

The change in the two engines has been made after SpaceX found something that may have caused the engines to start earlier than planned. However, when SpaceX found the substance, one of their launches got paused right before the takeoff in October.

Later, one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets was tasked to launch a new GPS satellite for the Space Force. But it shut itself down after just two seconds before takeoff.

The Vice President of build and flight reliability for SpaceX, Hans Koenigsmann, believes that it was a “good” abort by his team and their rocket. He also assures that their rocket did “exactly” what it is programmed to do during the press conference.

Today, SpaceX also reveals that the rocket automatically halted its launch when two of its nine main Merlin engines started too early. Starting up too early has its consequences. It can cause something called a “hard start.”

In the hard start, the engine’s different propellants and fluids get mixed in an incorrect order. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 closed itself down right before that happened. Such hard starts can damage the hardware.

About this, Koenigsmann says that a hard start may not necessarily be wrong. Nevertheless, in most of its cases, it disturbs the engine. Further, Koenigsmann added that it could also damage the engine. However, in extreme cases, it can cause more damage to the engine.

Post abort scenes

Later after the abort, SpaceX examined their engines and found a reddish varnish substance. It seemed to be blocking a comforting valve in each of the models.

The varnish, though, is similar to nail polish. It is a cleaning liquid, a possible leftover from the time when the engine was built.

Koenigsmann, nonetheless, thinks that it may have come from one of their vendors who work on the engine.

However, he didn’t name the company. He also says that it seems a “little hard” to figure all this out.

SpaceX says that it is now working with the vendor to execute healing responses. Moreover, they also claim that they will be inspecting all of their hardware even more closely next time. The same substance was found in all the engines after the testing.

Now, after the abort, the engines were examined by SpaceX in its fleet. They also singled out five other engines on three different rockets.

Out of those five, two were on the Falcon 9 rocket launching three NASA astronauts and one Japanese astronaut in November. This mission is called Crew-1.

SpaceX claims that it is working with the vendor to imply remedial actions. Nonetheless, they will not be flying Crew-1 until the next few days, following the company launching a mutual European-American satellite called Sentinel-6. Its launch is currently set for 10th November 2020, out of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Image courtesy of Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

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