SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch called off again

Unexplained technical issues caused the rocket launch to be canceled for a second time in one week.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from Vandenburg Air Force Base in September. SpaceX

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket was slated to hurtle into outer space on Monday, but unusual pressure readings canceled the launch. Then, Falcon 9 was scheduled to have a famed Thanksgiving Day liftoff; but, once again, the flight was nixed -- this time due to unexplained technical issues.

It's been a tough week for SpaceX, but that hasn't deterred the company from working to get its rocket aloft. SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk took to Twitter after the second canceled launch on Thursday to say that the company was playing it safe.

"We called manual abort. Better to be paranoid and wrong. Bringing rocket down to borescope engines," Musk tweeted.

The Falcon 9 is SpaceX's most powerful rocket. The nine-engine, 224-foot-tall rocket features a longer first stage and triple redundant flight computers.

This week, the rocket was scheduled to blast off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and carry a SES-8 communications satellite for placement in orbit. While SpaceX has launched satellites before, this would have been the first time it launched a commercial communications satellite.

"This launch is obviously very important to the future of SpaceX," Musk told reporters at a prelaunch reception on Sunday, according to USA Today. "We're very appreciative that SES would place a bet on SpaceX here."

In September, an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket successfully placed a Canadian science satellite into orbit.

Ever since NASA retired its space shuttle program in 2011, private companies like SpaceX, Sierra Nevada , and Boeing have been competing for contracts that would allow them to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

NASA has awarded SpaceX $1.6 billion to provide 12 cargo flights to deliver equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. SpaceX is also gearing up to one day provide commercial flights into space.

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About the author

Dara Kerr, a freelance journalist based in the Bay Area, is fascinated by robots, supercomputers and Internet memes. When not writing about technology and modernity, she likes to travel to far-off countries.

 

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