SpaceX Falcon Unsuccessful In Three Launch Attempts Monday; Aims For New Thursday Launch Date

By Ajit Jha on November 26, 2013 8:43 AM EST

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launched during a test in December 2010.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, here being launched during a test run in 2010. (Photo: NASA/Tony Gray and Kevin O)

SpaceX, the private space transport company launched in 2002 by Elon Musk, was planning to grab a big slice of the market for TV and telecom satellites with a launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying an SES TV satellite on Monday. However, the Cape Canaveral launch had to be postponed after three unsuccessful attempts to get the Falcon off the ground in the allotted 65-minute window

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Had this California outfit successfully placed an important new platform in orbit for SES-8 satellite, it might have emerged hugely successful the first time the company attempted such a mission. The aborted mission on Monday has, however, not dented the spirits of the company, which is planning to try again on Thursday at 5:38 p.m. local Florida time.

The controllers were thwarted by a glitch on each try. The third and the final hold was ordered when liquid oxygen pressurization system in the rocket's first stage failed. The SES mission is highly critical for SpaceX because this mission would be the first time the company would be able to launch a spacecraft thousands of miles above the Earth. Until now, SpaceX Falcon rocket flights have been limited to low earth orbits, usually delivering supplies to NASA's space station.

By September of  2013, the SpaceX company had already launched the latest version of their Falcon 9 vehicle from California to place a cluster of small satellites in low-Earth orbit. Musk's company is aiming to capture a sizeable share of the market- currently dominated by European and Russian rockets - with the launch of these satellites. The 3.1-ton TV satellite they will try to get up into orbit this Thursday was made for the Luxembourg-based satellite TV operator SES. 

Commercial spaceflights are hugely rewarding both for the parent companies and the states where they are located. SpaceX, a pioneer in the private spaceflight industry, has more than 40 contracted launches scheduled worth $4 billion. The company is planning to establish a private launch site, one among the few in the world's commercial orbital launch sites, on the Texas coast at Boca Chica Beach. Until then, it will continue to use NASA launch sites. 

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