SpaceX aborts launch; better safe than sorry

10:38 AM, Nov 29, 2013   |    comments
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket sits on the launchpad



Cape Canaveral, FL (Florida Today) -- SpaceX hopes its Falcon 9 rocket is ready for a third launch attempt within a few days, after coming within one second of a Thanksgiving Day blastoff from Cape Canaveral.

The rocket's nine first-stage engines fired at 5:39 p.m. Thursday, but shut down when computers sensed their thrust was building up too slowly.

The countdown was restarted in an effort to pull off a launch before the window closed at 6:44 p.m., but engineers ran out of time to analyze data from the engine cutoff and called off the attempt with a minute left.

"Better to be paranoid and wrong," tweeted CEO Elon Musk.

Musk said the rocket would return to its hangar for engine inspections at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40.

No new date was immediately set for the launch of SES-8, a communications satellite owned by Luxembourg-based SES.

A first launch attempt Monday scrubbed because of fluctuating pressures in the rocket booster's liquid oxygen tank, SpaceX said.

SpaceX is trying to launch an upgraded version of the Falcon 9 that has flown only once before, on a September test flight from California.

This mission would be the company's first of a commercial satellite, after several successful deliveries of cargo to the International Space Station launched by the original Falcon 9.

A launch Thursday would have been the first from the Cape on Thanksgiving since 1959.

But that launch ended in failure. Musk's better-safe-than-sorry strategy made sure history would not repeat itself.

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