satellite launch postponed for third time, until Tuesday
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[June 23, 2014]
By Irene Klotz
CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - Space
Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, postponed for a third time the
launch of six commercial communication satellites from Cape Canaveral
Air Force Station, officials said on Sunday.
Liftoff of the privately owned company’s Falcon 9 rocket had been
slated for 5:30 p.m. EDT/2130 GMT. Aboard the rocket are six small
satellites owned by Orbcomm Inc, which provides machine-to-machine
data and messaging services worldwide.
SpaceX, which is owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon
Musk, has been trying since Friday to launch what would be its 10th
Falcon 9 rocket, a medium-lift booster that also flies cargo
capsules to the International Space Station for NASA.
SpaceX is pursuing U.S. military launch contracts as well, hoping to
break a monopoly by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing
and Lockheed Martin.
Friday’s launch attempt was called off due to a potential technical
problem with the rocket’s upper-stage engine. No other information
about the issue was provided by SpaceX, though the glitch apparently
was cleared in time for a second launch attempt on Saturday. That
attempt was canceled because of poor weather at the launch site.
SpaceX rescheduled a launch for Sunday but encountered another
technical issue. It was not known if the glitch was related to the
upper-stage engine issue that surfaced on Friday. SpaceX did not
immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The ... launch attempt has been scrubbed to address a potential
concern identified during pre-flight checks,” SpaceX wrote on its
“The vehicle and payload are in good condition, and engineering
teams will take the extra time to ensure the highest possible level
of mission assurance prior to flight,” it said.
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The next launch opportunity is on Tuesday.
SpaceX said it had planned to restore a webcast and commentary for
Sunday's launch attempt after imposing an unprecedented media
blackout for Saturday's launch try.
“For the first time since the end of the Cold War, a space launch
from Cape Canaveral will not be broadcast to the press and the
public,” Spaceflightnow.com, which provides live launch coverage,
wrote on its website on Saturday.
The blackout spurred an angry backlash on Twitter. The company did
not respond to questions about why it canceled Saturday's launch
commentary and webcast or why it planned to reverse itself for
Sunday's launch attempt.
(Editing by Eric Walsh)
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