SpaceX halts first commercial launch of updated Falcon 9 rocket
SpaceX on May 10, 2018, aborted the launch of its first commercial flight of the first Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida (U.S.), bound on a mission to carry a communications satellite, the Bangabandhu-1, into the Earth’s orbit for the government of Bangladesh.
SpaceX was set to launch its new Block-5 edition of the Falcon 9 rocket, an upgraded version of the Falcon 9 with improved reusability and increased lifting power, on Thursday, May 10, 2018, when the rocket’s onboard computers halted the countdown about a minute before blast-off, in the final stage of the launch sequence, due to a technical glitch, Reuters reported.
The reason for the automatic shutdown of the final launch sequence has not been determined, and SpaceX is reportedly reviewing the data logs to determine what prompted the Falcon 9's abort procedure. It was also not immediately clear whether SpaceX would be able to resume the countdown and proceed with the maiden flight of the first Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket or postpone the launch to another day, according to The Business Insider.
Mission controllers reportedly said they would try the launch again the next day, on Friday, May 11, 2018. SpaceX has a roughly the same two-hour-plus backup launch window, reserved at the Kennedy Space Center for the mission between 4:14 p.m. and 6:21 p.m. EDT, Popular Mechanics writes. After liftoff, SpaceX would attempted to land the Block 5's first stage in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Falcon 9 rocket is a launch vehicle designed for crewed missions into the Earth’s orbit. Its Block-5 is equipped with upgrades for greater power, safety and reusability, compared to its predecessor, Block-4. The Block-5 is the first rocket from Elon Musk’s company to comply with NASA’s standards for its Commercial Crew Program to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). Reuters explains. The Block-5 will also be used to launch U.S. Air Force global positioning satellites and other high-value security payloads.