Two days after making international headlines with an explosive test flight of a prototype starship, Hawthorne-based SpaceX Friday scrubbed a planned rocket launch from Canaveral with just 30 seconds left in the countdown.
According to SpaceX, the launch of the rocket carrying a satellite for the SiriusXM satellite radio company was pushed back “to perform additional ground system checkouts.” An exact schedule was not immediately set for another launch attempt, with SpaceX saying it will not occur until at least Sunday.
The SXM-7 satellite being deployed in the mission will replace one of SiriusXM’s five satellites already in orbit. Another replacement satellite is scheduled to be launched next month.
Friday’s launch was originally scheduled for 8:20 a.m. California time, but it was pushed back by about an hour, then re-set for 9:55 a.m., with SpaceX saying crews were monitoring upper-level winds over Cape Canaveral. The countdown was then halted with just 30 seconds before liftoff.
Once the launch occurs, SpaceX will again attempt to recover the first stage of the rocket by landing it on a droneship named “Just Read the Instructions” floating in the Atlantic Ocean.
The first stage of the rocket being used in the mission has flown six times previously, making it the company’s second most-veteran flight vehicle. A different booster has already flown seven times, but this mission will tie that mark.
Also being reused on the mission is one-half of the rocket’s “fairing,” or nosecone, that protects the satellite as it’s being propelled into orbit.
The mission will mark the first time such a veteran rocket and previously used fairing have been deployed in a fully commercial launch — something experts say is a major expression of the confidence SiriusXM has in SpaceX’s cost-cutting rocket-recovery efforts.
SpaceX on Wednesday conducted a test launch of a prototype Starship being designed for trips to the Moon, Mars and beyond. The ship successfully traveled about eight miles into the air and, during its descent back to Earth, made a successful landing flip maneuver. However, the ship exploded on touchdown, with SpaceX founder Elon Musk saying the ship’s velocity was too high on landing.
Despite the fireball that destroyed the ship, the mission was deemed an overall success thanks to the level of flight information engineers were able to obtain and further advance design work on the craft.
After the mission, Musk tweeted, “Mars, here we come!!”