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SpaceX postpones Falcon 9 rocket launch for second day in a row

A rocket is headed back to the shop so engineers can investigate a problem before launching a powerful new GPS satellite.

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Eric Mack
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A Block 5 Falcon 9 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX

Elon Musk's rocket company is going to take more time to diagnose a glitch with one of its brand-new Block 5 Falcon 9 boosters that was set to haul a high-tech GPS satellite to orbit for the US Air Force.

"Standing down from today's launch attempt of GPS III SV01 to further evaluate out of family reading on first stage sensors," the company tweeted a few hours before Wednesday morning's launch window opened. "Will confirm a new launch date once complete."

It's already been a long wait for the US military to get aloft what's designed to be the most powerful GPS satellite ever. It was originally meant to catch a ride on a United Launch Alliance rocket in 2017. Early this year, the plan switched to using a Falcon 9. The launch date has been pushed back from September to October to Dec. 15, then to Tuesday and then to Wednesday. 

On Tuesday, the Falcon 9's on-board computer encountered an error a few minutes before blast-off, and the launch was aborted.

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SpaceX had hoped to try again Wednesday. But as launch time approached, it made the decision to stand down and the Falcon 9 was taken from the launch pad to allow engineers to get a closer look at the issue. 

There's still another launch set for Wednesday, however. A French spy satellite is set to lift off aboard a Russian-made rocket in South America at 8:17 a.m. PT. The launch will be streamed via the French space agency's YouTube Channel

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