The launch Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket carrying a payload of Starlink satellites was aborted during the final countdown, seconds before take-off.
The cancellation happened after an auto-abort alert was triggered due to engine power issue.
Standing down today; standard auto-abort triggered due to out of family data during engine power check. Will announce next launch date opportunity once confirmed on the Range
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 15, 2020
“Standing down today; standard auto-abort triggered due to out of family data during engine power check. Will announce next launch date opportunity once confirmed on the Range,” SpaceX tweeted shortly after the abort.
The 60 Starlink satellites on board were meant to be launched into near-Earth orbit. If they had successfully launched, they would have brought the total number of satellites in orbit to 350.
The rocket has launched four flights for SpaceX. This fifth launch for the Starlink mission would make it SpaceX’s first to fly five times.
Catching the issue during the countdown is not uncommon.
“Keep in mind, the purpose of the countdown is to help us catch potential issues prior to the flight,” Michael Andrews, a SpaceX supply chain manager, said during launch commentary.
“There are a thousand ways a launch can go wrong, but only one way the launch can go right,” Andrews said. “Given that, we are overly cautious on the ground, and if the team sees anything that looks even slightly off, we’ll stop the countdown.”
SpaceX will have to wait for a new launch date, with engineers addressing the engine issue in the meantime.