SpaceX aborted the launch of a spy satellite to low-Earth orbit for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) on Thursday, Dec. 17 — which streamed live at 9:45 AM EST, according to the company's YouTube channel.
The Falcon 9 rocket was initially scheduled for a 9:45 AM EST blast-off, but was delayed less than two minutes before launch due to irregular sensor readings in the second-stage rocket, and later aborted.
The next launch attempt is scheduled on Friday, Dec. 18 — with a launch window opening at 9:45 AM EST.
This would have been the last launch of 2020, according to CEO SpaceX Elon Musk.
UPDATE Dec. 17, 11:07 AM EST: SpaceX 'stands down' from Falcon 9 launch of NROL-198 spy satellite
SpaceX's announced it is 'standing down' from recycling for a second launch attempt on Thursday, after a delay shortly before the initial launch time.
The vehicle and payload remain in good health, the team responded adequately, but the Falcon 9 launch is tomorrow, Friday Dec. 18, at 9:45 AM EST.
UPDATE Dec. 17, 10:50 AM EST: SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch initially delayed, still possibly launching before 12:00 PM EST
SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch of an NRO spy satellite was initially delayed when its second-stage sensor saw higher pressure readings, which triggered an auto-abort less than two minutes before launch.
As of writing, the SpaceX team is still deciding whether a recycled attempt at launch before the window closes at noon is warranted. Vehicle and payload are still in good health, according to the live stream.
A decision should be reached within 10 to 20 minutes from now.
More updates coming.
Falcon 9 auto-abort called at T-1:53 due to a second stage sensor reading. Today’s launch window closes at 12:00 p.m. EST.— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 17, 2020
UPDATE Dec. 17, 10:10 AM EST: SpaceX's Falcon 9 auto-aborts, launch window still open
SpaceX's Falcon 9 carrying the NRO spy satellite auto-aborted in the final two-minute countdown to launch on Thursday — due to "a second stage sensor reading," according to a tweet from the company.
"Today's launch window closes at 12:00 PM EST," added the tweet.
UPDATE Dec. 17, 9:56 AM EST: Falcon 9 launch of NRO spy satellite retry still possible
The SpaceX team is currently deciding whether a recycle is warranted for another launch attempt of the NROL-108 spy satellite on Thursday.
The launch window extends until 12:00 PM EST, but if we don't launch today, there is another launch window on Friday at the same 9:45-AM-EST time.
While there are no updates regarding the reason for this delay, there appear to be no additional obstructions to a subsequent launch attempt, at least 45 minutes away.
UPDATE Dec. 17, 9:44 AM EST: SpaceX launch mission control calls 'hold'
SpaceX's mission control called "hold" less than two minutes (1 minute 53 seconds) before launch, for as-yet unknown reasons. The countdown was reset to T-minus 45 minutes. While this doesn't mean the launch will go forward at a later time on Thursday, the window for launch does extend to 12:00 PM EST.
More developments to come.
SpaceX launching NROL-108 Spy Satellite
The flight is slated for launch from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida — during a three-hour window for blast off opening at 9:00 AM EST. But the exact time of launch has yet to be announced.
This will mark the 31st launch of 2020 for SpaceX and its go-to space rocket, the Falcon 9 — in addition to the company's third launch in little more than a week. On Dec. 6, SpaceX began its final launch series of the year when it ferried a newly-upgraded cargo Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, which was the first time two such spacecraft were attached to the orbital outpost in history.
Days later, SpaceX launched a radio satellite into orbit for Sirius XM.
Last launch of 2020 coming up— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2020
This is the last launch of 2020, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. "Last launch of 2020 coming up," he tweeted.