So close, and yet so far. SpaceX’s third attempt to launch its latest Falcon 9 rocket – coupled with an extremely daring landing effort – failed at the very last moment yesterday, meaning the company is going to have to try for a fourth time later this week.
SpaceX has been trying to launch the SES-9 mission for a week. The first two attempts at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida were cancelled last week due to issues with the rocket’s liquid-oxygen propellant.
In this third effort, the launch had been scheduled to take place Sunday, February 28, at 6:46 p.m. EST (11:46 p.m. GMT). That had to be pushed back by 35 minutes when a boat strayed into the restricted zone near where the rocket was launching from.
When countdown resumed, things seem to be going swimmingly, and the countdown clock even made it to zero, which saw the engines ignite. But before the rocket could lift off, the launch was immediately aborted, possibly due to rising temperatures because of the delay caused by the boat, suggested Elon Musk in a tweet.
Check out a video of the launch abort above.
The mission is carrying the SES-9 communications satellite into geostationary orbit. The first stage of the rocket will also attempt to land on a floating barge again, following a few failures and one successful landing on the ground, all in a bid to ultimately reduce space travel costs by reusing rockets.
Owing to the high orbit required of the mission, most of the rocket’s fuel will go into placing the satellite in its intended position. For this reason, SpaceX has said that the chances of this landing being a success are low – but the data will be useful nonetheless.
The next attempt at a launch is expected no earlier than tomorrow. When it does happen, you’ll be able to watch it live at the official SpaceX webcast.