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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

SpaceX Launch Delayed Until Thanksgiving

As reported by USA Today: A rocket launch could spice up Thanksgiving Day traditions this year on the Space Coast.

SpaceX is targeting a 5:38 p.m. Thursday launch of a commercial communications satellite, after Monday evening's first attempt was scrubbed.

Weather cooperated, but a series of technical issues cropped up with the 224-foot Falcon 9 rocket, delaying and then twice aborting the countdown at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

The countdown got within 4 minutes before the final abort for reasons SpaceX did not detail on a webcast. The 66-minute launch window closed at 6:43 p.m.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said later on Twitter that engineers saw pressure fluctuations in the rocket's first-stage liquid oxygen tank.

"Want to be super careful, so pushing launch to Thurs.," he said.

Musk had said before Monday's try that launch attempts were not possible Tuesday or Wednesday.

They are two of the busiest travel days of the year, and the Federal Aviation Administration would not close the air space because too much air traffic would need to be rerouted.

"So if it doesn't happen (Monday), it's probably going to happen maybe at the end of the week," he said. "Thanksgiving is a possibility."

The mission is an important one for SpaceX and Luxembourg-based SES, which operates a fleet of 54 satellites.

It is SpaceX's first launch from Florida of its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket and its first launch of a commercial communications satellite headed for a geostationary orbit 22,300 miles over the equator.

SES wants to get its SES-8 spacecraft in service to help beam high-definition TV channels to homes in India and Southeast Asia, a fast-growing market.