Sunday’s SpaceX launch aborted at last second, next attempt TBD

Liftoff was scheduled for 9:22 a.m. but an auto abort stopped launch at 1 second

SpaceX aborts Sunday's launch.mp4
SpaceX aborts Sunday's launch.mp4

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – Spectators who came out to watch SpaceX launch a new batch of Starlink satellites Sunday were left speechless when the launch was aborted at the very last second.

The launch was scheduled for 9:22 a.m., however, right at the time of ignition the rocket stayed grounded.

“3,2,1, 0 ... Ignition, liftoff!” SpaceX launch commentators said but a second later, “Disregard, we have an abort.”

“Standing down today; standard auto-abort triggered due to out of family data during engine power check,” SpaceX said on Twitter.

Michael Andrews, a supply chain supervisor at SpaceX, was commentating the launch for the company Sunday and offered some insight into the precautions before flight.

“Keep in mind, the purpose of the countdown is to catch a potential issues prior to flight,” Andrews said. “There are a thousand ways a launch can go wrong and only one way a launch can go right. Given that we are overly caution on the ground and if the team, or the vehicle, sees anything just slightly off we’ll stop the countdown.”

SpaceX said they will announce the next launch date opportunity once it’s confirmed on the Range.

If the private company tries again on Monday around the same time, weather officers with the Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron say there is an 80% chance of favorable liftoff conditions. The primary concern will be cloud cover.

When it does liftoff, this will be the fifth flight of the Falcon 9 booster used for the launch.

Andrews said “overall the vehicle appears to be in good health.”

Stay with News 6 and ClickOrlando.com for updates.


EARLIER REPORT

Skip the Sunday morning cartoons and start your day off with a SpaceX launch instead.

The company plans to launch the sixth round of space-based internet satellites from Kennedy Space Center no earlier than Sunday morning. It’s all part of CEO Elon Musk’s plan to begin beaming the internet to people around the globe later this year using a constellation of hundreds of satellites.

Weather is looking good for a Sunday morning launch, according to Air Force weather officials. Liftoff is scheduled for 9:22 a.m. from Kennedy Space Center launchpad 39A.

The launch was originally scheduled for Saturday but was rescheduled for Sunday, according to SpaceX.

Forecasters with the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron are predicting a 90% chance of good launch conditions for the Falcon 9 liftoff.

SpaceX plans to land the rocket booster on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s coast about 10 minutes after liftoff.

Weather officers are now forecasting recovery or landing conditions, too. SpaceX typically lands its Falcon boosters on a ship called Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean after liftoff or back at Cape Canaveral on land.

More recently SpaceX launch forecasts include some new factors such as recovery conditions, solar weather and upper-level wind shear. All three of those risks remain low for Saturday, according to the forecast.

SpaceX has launched three rounds of Starlink satellites so far this year in addition to the two Starlink launches last year.

The next launch from the Space Coast is happening March 21 when United Launch Alliance launches an Atlas V rocket with a military communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 41.


About the Author:

Emilee is a digital journalist for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com, where she writes about space and Central Florida news. Emilee hosts the Edward R. Murrow Award-winning podcast Space Curious. Previously, she was a space writer and web editor for the Orlando Sentinel and a web producer at the Naples Daily News.