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SpaceX’s Starlink Satellite Launch Aborted with 5 Seconds Remaining in Countdown

In a last-minute development, SpaceX was forced to abort the launch of its Starlink satellites with just 5 seconds remaining in the countdown.

Starlink
Image Source: In this photo illustration the Starlink (SpaceX) logo app is seen displayed on a smartphone. (Shutterstock @ rafapress)

SpaceX just aborted a rocket launch for the second time in less than a week.

One of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets was scheduled to launch 15 Starlink internet satellites from California’s foggy Vandenberg Space Force Base on Wednesday (July 19) at 1:25 a.m. EDT (0525 GMT; 10:25 p.m. local California time on July 18).

But it wasn’t to be: The launch team called things off with just five seconds left on the countdown clock.

“There are thousands of ways a launch can go wrong and only one way that it can go right,” SpaceX’s Zach Luppen said during the webcast of the planned launch. “Given that, we are overly cautious on the ground. And if the team or the vehicle sees anything that just looks even slightly off, they’ll stop the countdown.”

SpaceX’s Atticus Vadera uttered very similar words on July 14, after the launch team called off the planned liftoff of a Falcon 9 topped with 54 Starlink satellites from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. That rocket flew without incident the next day, acing its record-tying 16th mission.

It’s unclear what caused Wednesday’s abort; the mission team did not specify the issue during the webcast, which ended shortly after the launch was scrubbed. (The weather was good enough for launch, despite the thick fog at Vandenberg.)

But Luppen said that the rocket and the Starlink satellites are in good health. And SpaceX aims to launch again soon: The company said via Twitter that it’s targeting Wednesday (July 19) for the next liftoff. Presumably, that means a 24-hour delay, with a launch Wednesday night California time, which is early Thursday (July 20) EDT and GMT.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:15 a.m. EDT on July 19 with the new target date of July 19 California time.

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