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Three rockets left on Launch Pads as scrubs continue at Cape Canaveral

Delta IV Heavy, GPSIII-SV04, and Starlink 12 have all scrubbed within 24hrs of each other causing three rockets to be fully loaded and ready to go on launch pads for what I'm told is the first time in history.


On September 30th after a month of scrubs and delays everything looked promising for the ULA Delta IV Heavy to finally lift off on it's twelfth flight, that of the NROL-44 mission. Clouds were in the sky about Cape Canaveral but the weather restrictions were all green, meaning it was a GO for launch. The final hold had lifted and the countdown had resumed, then the terminal countdown sequencer rack, or TCSR found and unexpected condition prior to the engine start sequence which aborted the launch. A tweet later from ULA president Tory Bruno said the computer found an issue with one of the sensors.

October 1st, at 9:17 AM Est, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was set to lift off from LC-39A at Kennedy Space Center. Again the weather was green for launch, and everything was progressing towards a beautiful flight into orbit. The rocket was fueled, the big vent of excess gasses took place as it should just twenty minutes before liftoff. T-minus 2 seconds hit the clock and their computer systems shut down the rocket with an abort as well. This being the third overall scrub of this launch attempt. SpaceX would shortly tweet about an out of family ground sensor being the problem.

(Two Falcon 9 rockets on launch pads for the second time in history)

Friday, October 2nd at 9:43 PM Est, from SLC-40 at Canaveral Air Force Station another Falcon 9 rocket stood at the ready for SpaceX to launch their GPS III- SV04 mission. The countdown once again went smooth, and the weather was favorable. Suddenly, Launch Aborted! Watching the live stream provided by SpaceX it seemed that the engines tried to start up then failed or were shut off. SpaceX initially said they would try again in 24hrs but the next day came and they were not ready. Ultimately engine trouble did seem to be the issue as Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of SpaceX stated he was coming to Cape Canaveral to investigate the problem himself.


The three scrubs led to an opportunity of a lifetime early in the morning of October 1st., launch viewers from Playalinda beach were treated not one, not two, but three rockets standing vertical on pads with payloads and fairings ready to go. As history goes, this is the first I can find that we've had three rockets on three separate launch pads ready to fly. Back in 2009 we got two Space Shuttles, and a few other times we have had two rockets out and ready, but never three. In the picture below you can see the Falcon 9 with GPS III-SV04 to the fair left on SLC-40, in the middle is a Falcon 9 with Starlin 12 aboard, and to the far right Delta IV Heavy stands tall with NROL-44 inside the fairings. Shortly after this picture was taken the Delta IV heavy was back inside the MST (Mobile Service Tower) shielding it from view. Now that Starlink 12 is slated to launch Oct. 5th at 7:51 AM Est. Surely the DIVH will remain inside the MST during the launch window, leaving us to wonder when we will see another trio of rockets out again.









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