SpaceX was supposed to go ahead with a US military GPS satellite launch from Florida on October 3; however, the liftoff was pulled back with just two seconds to go.
The planning that went into the scheduled time for the launch gave a 15-minute window for the liftoff which was supposed to commence at 6:43 p.m. PT, with the weather forecast at 70% favorable for the liftoff. The countdown began, and everything seemed to be going. SpaceX’s way until just two seconds before the launch. The company stopped the countdown clock just as the engine ignition was starting.
SpaceX sent out a Tweet stating that the launch of GPS III-4 will take place another day. The Tweet reads, “Standing down from tonight’s launch attempt of GPS III-4.” The Tweet that went out from SpaceX’s Twitter handle did not mention the cause for the cancellation but did mention that the next window opens at 6:39 p.m. PT Saturday.
The tweet from SpaceX was swiftly followed by a tweet from its CEO Elon Musk. When asked about the issue, he identified “Unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator” as the issue behind the rescheduling of the launch.
Understanding the brevity of the situation and what the delay may mean for SpaceX’s goal next year, Musk also mentioned, “We will need to make a lot of improvements to have a chance of completing 48 launches next year!”
As for the launch of the GPS satellite, once it is completed successfully, it will attempt to land the Falcon 9’s first stage on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The spacecraft should ideally deploy about 90 minutes after the liftoff.
The GPS III Space Vehicle (SV) 04 is the fourth in a series of GPS satellites operated by the US Space Force, the newest branch of the military.
Only this week, SpaceX’s new batch of Starlink communications satellites were scheduled to launch into orbit on a Falcon 9, but that too was scrubbed. Another rocket, a Delta IV Heavy was supposed to liftoff on Wednesday, but a technical issue stopped the launch. Hopefully, SpaceX can escort the GPS mission into orbit as planned.