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SpaceX scrubs Falcon 9 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral

Rocket will launch no earlier than Friday for additional data review

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX on Thursday has scrubbed its launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying an international communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The two-hour launch window will reopen at 5:40 p.m. on Friday.

"Out of an abundance of caution, launch postponed until no earlier than tomorrow for additional data review," SpaceX said in a tweet, adding that the Falcon 9 and spacecraft are healthy.

Just before 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, the countdown clock was halted due to an unknown issue. There was a 90 percent chance of favorable weather at Launch Complex 40 on Thursday.

SpaceX's 2014 launch of the Thaicom 6 mission was then only the company’s second sending a communications satellite to an orbit 22,300 miles over the equator, flights that require multiple firings by the upper-stage engine, News 6 partner Florida Today reports.

Landing boosters is more difficult during these missions than on flights to lower orbits, because the Falcon 9 flies faster and is subjected to eight times more heating during its fall back to Earth.

 

But SpaceX pulled it off for the first time on its last mission on May 6, when it launched the Japanese JCSAT-14 communications satellite and landed the Falcon 9 booster on an unpiloted “drone ship” a couple of hundred miles offshore.

SpaceX will try to repeat the feat Friday, with the Falcon 9’s first stage again bound for a touchdown on its “Of Course I Still Love You” ship, about 10 minutes after liftoff.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently reported that the booster recovered May 6 sustained the most damage yet of SpaceX's three landed rockets, raising doubts about whether it could be launched again.

The company has not said if any adjustments have been made to the rocket launching Friday.

But whatever condition it returns in, recovering a rocket for inspections provides engineers valuable information that could lead to improvements.

SpaceX does plan to re-fly the booster landed in April during a launch of International Space Station supplies — the first to stick a drone ship landing.

The 7,000-pound Thaicom 8 satellite set to launch Thursday will be Thaicom’s fifth in orbit. The spacecraft and launch cost about $180 million combined, according to Thaicom.

Built by Orbital ATK, Thaicom 8 will deliver high-definition TV and data services to Thailand, India and parts of Africa, beaming signals near two other satellites Thaicom operates.

If all goes well, the Falcon 9 rocket's upper stage will deploy the satellite 32 minutes after liftoff.

The launch is SpaceX’s fifth this year, and the fourth by an upgraded version of the Falcon 9 introduced after a failure last summer.


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