Falcon 9 V1.1.prepared for first “commercial” flight carrying SES-8 comsat after second stage firing fault fixed25 Nov 2013, 09:51 UTC
The first “commercial” flight of a Falcon 9 V1.1 launch vehicle is set to take place on 25 November. On board is the SES 8 communications satelilte being launched for the Luxembourg-based satellite communications firm SES. That satellite’s engineers and insurers have been reassured that the fault which prevented previous flight’s second stage test burn of its Merlin 1D engine failed has been discovered. Two restarts of this engine are required in the transfer orbital positioning during the commercial launch of the SES 8 communications satellite. An investigation found that the aborted engine restart in September 2013 was caused when fluid lines for the second stage Merlin engine’s igniter fluid froze after long exposure to cold oxygen. This fault did not happen in ground tests where the ambient air tempererature prevented this. The remedy recommended for subsequent flights was to use more insulation.