SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Shuts Down During Starlink Satellite Constellation Launch

The rocket's onboard computer triggered an abort after detecting an issue with one of its engines.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The photo credit line may appear like thisSpaceX/YouTube

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, attempting a fifth flight in a mission to launch 60 Starlink internet satellites, shut down Sunday. The Falcon 9 rocket's onboard computer triggered an abort after detecting an issue with one of its engines.

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"Standing down today; standard auto-abort triggered due to out of family data during engine power check. Will announce next launch date opportunity once confirmed on the Range," tweeted SpaceX.

Today's rocket has already been used in four flights for SpaceX. If today's launch had been successful, the rocket would be the first to fly five times.

"We had a condition regarding engine power that caused us to abort today’s launch," Michael Andrews, SpaceX supply chain manager, said during the launch. "Prior to that the countdown was proceeding normally."

SpaceX is now working with the U.S. Air Force and the Eastern Range to find the next possible available launch date. Unfortunately, another launch today is not possible.

"Keep in mind, the purpose of the countdown is to help us catch potential issues prior to flight," Andrews explained.

This is why the rocket is equipped with safety features that can trigger auto-aborts like today's.

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"There are a thousand ways a launch can go wrong, but only one way the launch can go right," Andrews added. "Given that, we are overly cautious on the ground, and if the team sees anything that looks even slightly off, we'll stop the countdown." 

SpaceX runs many tests on its rockets before a launch but that does not minute that things can not go wrong last minute. The firm now has to wait for the next launch date to complete its mission.

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