For reasons that remain unclear, SpaceX was forced to abort the first launch of its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket with one minute to go in the countdown yesterday.
The rocket’s mission was to carry the Bangabandhu Satellite-1 communications satellite to orbit for the government of Bangladesh.
The launch was scrubbed by an automatic abort procedure with 58 seconds left to go. While the reasons for the automatic abort are still not being disclosed, they were clearly severe enough to call for an extensive delay in the Falcon 9’s launch.
So far, SpaceX has remained tight-lipped, having tweeted just once since yesterday and indicating that another launch attempt is scheduled for this afternoon:
Standing down today due to a standard ground system auto abort at T-1 min. Rocket and payload are in good health—teams are working towards tomorrow’s backup launch opportunity at 4:14 p.m. EDT, or 20:14 UTC.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 10, 2018
What is significant about this iteration of the Falcon 9 is that it is the first of its kind that will able to be launched up to 10 times without the need for the extensive refurbishment that usually plagues rockets after use. Along with these massive upgrades in reliability and reusability, according to Elon Musk, only minor upkeep is necessary for the Falcon 9’s first stage to be used up to 100 times. Up to this point, Falcon 9 rockets have only been reused once.
On top of exponentially greater reusability, the new Falcon 9 cuts the turnaround time for launches from months to just weeks.
Additionally, the new Falcon 9 is now NASA-approved to carry crew members to and from the International Space Station, assuming they are able to successfully complete an entire flight.
The next launch attempt is scheduled for this afternoon.