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SpaceX's plans to conduct three liftoffs within three days were dashed Thursday evening when the launch sequence of a Falcon 9 rocket was automatically aborted with just seconds remaining.
Just after the 30-second reminder was called out, a launch abort auto-sequence was initiated by the rocket at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The computer-controlled process automatically shut down launch operations and forced SpaceX to scrub Thursday's attempt altogether.
Liftoff from Launch Complex 40 had been scheduled for 7:20 p.m. EDT. SpaceX now plans on trying again at 7:06 p.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 7.
The abort came after SpaceX successfully launched two Falcon 9s yesterday: one from Kennedy Space Center that carried a team of four in a Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station; and then another just seven hours later that involved boosting Starlink internet satellites from California.
SpaceX's launch director reported the abort was caused by "a higher-than-expected reading of cryogenic helium decay."
Company CEO Elon Musk later took to Twitter to clarify: "Tiny helium leak (just barely triggered abort), but we take no risks with customer satellites. Standing down to investigate," he said.
Secured in the rocket's payload fairing are two commercial communications spacecraft for Intelsat, a Luxembourg-based satellite operator. They're known as Galaxy 33 and 34.
Space Force forecasters with Space Launch Delta 45 reported Thursday that a few passing clouds and possibly showers couldn't be ruled out, but a "very similar pattern is expected for a Friday evening attempt with a few more cirrus clouds overhead."
Conditions, SLD 45 said, should be about 90% "go" for the backup attempt Friday evening.
If all remains on track, the Space Coast would see its third launch in just four days.
For the latest, visit floridatoday.com/launchschedule.
Jamie Groh is a space reporter for Florida Today. You can contact her at JGroh@floridatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AlteredJamie.
Launch October 7: SpaceX GalaxyCompany / Agency: SpaceX for IntelsatRocket: Falcon 9Location: Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force StationLaunch Time: 7:06 p.m. EDTTrajectory: NortheastWeather: 90% "go"Live coverage: Available at floridatoday.com/space 60 minutes before liftoffAbout: SpaceX will launch two commercial communications satellites for Luxembourg-based Intelsat known as Galaxy 33 and 34.