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/u/JeffHoffman on I am Jeff Hoffman, MIT Professor of Aerospace Engineering and former NASA Astronaut. Ask Me Anything!

19 Feb 2015, 19:06 UTC
/u/JeffHoffman on I am Jeff Hoffman, MIT Professor of Aerospace Engineering and former NASA Astronaut. Ask Me Anything!
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Wow - you have been doing your homework! When the main engines ignited, 6 seconds before liftoff, we got an alarm and a big red light saying that our left engine had only come up to 45% power. This should have triggered a pad abort with engine shutdown, which was what I was expecting. It was a real shock when we felt the "kick in the pants" that told us that the solid boosters had ignited and we were on our way. Having an engine at 45% meant that we could not achieve orbit and would have to perform a risky "Return to Launch Site (RTLS) Abort". No time to worry about it, though, I immediately grabbed the RTLS checklist and was starting to read out the first steps when the ground called up to tell us that all our engines were fine and that the problem was just with one of the sensors. So all was well. BUT - it was because of all of our training that we knew exactly what we would have had to do and were prepared to carry out the procedures. That's why we train so much. But I'm glad we ended up in ...

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