SpaceX rocket launch scrubbed again, this time by tornado threat

The first Block 5 Falcon 9 at Kennedy Space Center.


SpaceX took three swings at launching a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a powerful new military satellite this week and wound up striking out. But Elon Musk’s commercial space company remains determined to send the US Air Force’s new GPS III SV01 satellite to orbit soon.

The mission has been delayed for over a year now and was originally set to be launched by another company. This week’s attempts began Tuesday morning at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, when the brand new Block 5 Falcon 9 ran into an error minutes before blast-off and its on board computer aborted the launch. 

The launch was delayed about 24 hours, but the issue wasn’t resolved in time for Wednesday’s launch window. Late Wednesday, SpaceX announced it would try again Thursday morning with the acknowledgement that the weather forecast provided only a 20 percent chance of cooperating. 

Indeed, the early hours of Thursday in central Florida saw tornado warnings issued for parts of the region and reports of a twister touching down and causing property damage and at least one injury.

The poor conditions prompted SpaceX to stand down for the week and attempt a weekend launch instead on Saturday.

“Weather is 80% favorable for the launch window which opens at 8:55 a.m. EST, 13:55 UTC,” the company wrote on Twitter. 

It was a challenging week for launches around the world. Four separate launches got scuttled on Tuesday, including the SpaceX GPS III mission. Of the others, the launch of a French spy satellite from South America did get off the ground on Wednesday. Lift-off of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a US spy satellite from Vandenberg Air Force base was scrubbed for the fourth time in recent weeks Wednesday night. That launch will get another go Thursday evening from California. 

Finally, rising SpaceX competitor Blue Origin, owned by Jeff Bezos, has rescheduled the 10th launch of its New Shepard vehicle from west Texas for “early 2019.”

Check back with Techhnews for coverage of the next SpaceX launch attempt on Saturday. 

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