Elon Musk's SpaceX cancels rocket launch again because of technical glitch

Gwen Vasquez
December 20, 2018

The company is aiming for the next, 26-minute launch window that begins at 9:07 a.m. Wednesday.

The final launch of the day is planned to take place in California, where the United Launch Alliance will send a Delta IV Heavy rocket up from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 8:57 p.m. ET.

SpaceX and its Falcon 9 rocket are ready to launch a Global Positioning System satellite into space on behalf of the U.S. Air Force. The Space Command would be separate from Trump's plans for an independent military branch, Space Force, but could support those efforts, too. The satellite was meant to be deployed to medium Earth orbit - about 12,000 miles above sea level - approximately 1 hour and 56 minutes after liftoff. The GPS is used for "positioning, navigation, and timing services supporting vital US and allied operations worldwide, and underpins critical financial, transportation, and agricultural infrastructure that billions of users have come to depend on daily", according to SpaceX.

"The launch of GPS III SV01 is a major milestone in the effort to modernize the GPS system", said Johnathon Caldwell, vice president for navigation systems at Lockheed Martin.

But SpaceX said on Twitter it was standing down from the launch attempt of the GPS III to further evaluate an "out of family" reading on the rocket's first-stage sensors and would confirm a new launch date once that review was complete.

Vice President Mike Pence speaking at the Kennedy Space Center after the SpaceX launch scrub. NASA
Vice President Mike Pence speaking at the Kennedy Space Center after the SpaceX launch scrub. NASA

"We are scrubbing today's #NewShepard launch due to a ground infrastructure issue. Vehicle and payload remain healthy; next launch attempt is tomorrow at 9:07 EST, 14:07 UTC". The company is trying to determine whether it can launch Wednesday. However, SpaceX is still awaiting weather reports to see if a Wednesday launch will be feasible.

The next GPS III satellite will launch in mid-2019, Eschenfelder said, while subsequent satellites undergo testing in the company's Colorado processing facility.

SpaceX is contacted under NASA for commercial resupply missions to the ISS as well as crewed missions to bring astronauts to and from the station.

Pence's decision to be at the SpaceX launch underscored the importance of the payload. It's not scheduled to do a crewed mission demonstration until June of next year.

The first to drop off the schedule board was the Arianespace Soyuz rocket, which was delayed to Wednesday due to high-altitude winds above its launch site at the Centre Spatial Guyanais in the French Guiana.

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