SpaceX investigates Falcon 9 leak ahead of Saturday's planned launch

Launch to go on as planned if cleared

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

SpaceX is investigating a "very small leak" in the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, according to a tweet from CEO Elon Musk. If given the all clear, SpaceX will proceed with launch on Saturday, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

Also on Friday, the Air Force upgraded weather conditions for the 10:01 a.m. launch attempt to 70 percent "go."

Sunday at 9:38 a.m. was designated as the backup launch opportunity in the event of a delay.

Original story:

Thick clouds and rain could challenge SpaceX’s planned Saturday morning first attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center, according to Florida Today.

Liftoff of the rocket and an unmanned Dragon capsule carrying more than 5,000 pounds of International Space Station supplies is scheduled for 10:01 a.m., the day’s only launch opportunity.

There’s a 60 percent chance of acceptable weather during the instantaneous window, according to the Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron. Better conditions may prevail in the morning.

“The clouds and rain will steadily progress eastward through the day, although the most significant weather will not make it to the spaceport until after the launch window,” the forecast reads.

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SpaceX mission managers were scheduled to gather Friday morning to review their readiness to proceed with the launch.

The go-ahead hinges on Federal Aviation Administration approval of a license for SpaceX to fly from historic pad 39A at KSC, a former Saturn V and shuttle launch site.

The company expected that last-minute approval to come through on Friday.

SpaceX previously has launched from pad 40 just down the coast on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. That pad was badly damaged when a Falcon 9 rocket blew up during a Sept. 1 test.

Saturday’s launch attempt will be SpaceX’s first from Florida since last August. The Falcon 9 completed a successful return to flight mission last month in California.

If there is no launch Saturday, the next possible attempt would be at 9:38 a.m. Sunday.