SpaceX scrubs again Thursday; will try again in a “few days” (updated: Monday, er, Tuesday next launch attempt)

Falcon 9 after abort

The SpaceX Falcon 9 on the pad shortly after aborting a launch attempt Thursday at the T-0 mark (T+2 seconds according to the countdown clock) because of an engine issue. (credit: SpaceX)

Three days after technical glitches scrubbed a launch attempt of its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, SpaceX tried again Thursday—and almost made it this time. The countdown for a planned 5:39 pm EST (2239 GMT) launch on Thanksgiving Day went smoothly, but at T-0, as the nine Merlin 1D engines ignited, an abort was called while the rocket was still firmly clamped down to the launch pad.

SpaceX officials, including CEO Elon Musk, said the last-second abort was triggered automatically when the thrust of the first stage engines didn’t ramp up as planned. SpaceX recycled the count to try again at the end of the launch window, 6:44 pm EST (2344 GMT), but scrubbed with just under a minute left in the countdown. Mission managers decided they did not have enough time to review the information from the earlier abort to clear the launch, and decided to call it a day (even though the customer for the launch, SES, had given permission to extend the launch window by 20 minutes.)

SpaceX, as of midday Friday, has not announced a new launch date for the mission, its first to launch a commercial satellite to geosynchronous orbit. At the time of the scrub, Musk tweeted that they would “bring the rocket down” (that is, lower it from the pad and bring it back into the hangar) for engine inspections.

Musk also responded to an inquiry by an actor who has been closely linked to space over the years:

One publication, Via Satellite magazine (which was reporting from the launch), tweeted after the scrub that the launch was rescheduled for Saturday, but didn’t provide a source for the information; there has been no confirmation of that date from other sources:

Update 11/30 10 am EST: While there was some discussion on Friday that a Saturday evening launch was still possible, SpaceX said early Saturday that the next launch attempt would take place no earlier than Monday evening. An explanation from Elon Musk:

Update 12/2: Make that Tuesday for the next launch attempt, as SpaceX needed a little more time to get the vehicle ready:

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