SpaceX’s latest launch of 2020 will continue on Saturday, December 19, after unexpected delays halted the mission on Thursday. Elon Musk pulled the plug at launch yesterday with less than two minutes remaining on the launch countdown. SpaceX cited slightly high pressures in the upper stage of its Falcon 9 rocket as a possible cause of concern.
Andy Tran, who hosted the Live SpaceX broadcast yesterday, said: “There are a thousand ways a launch can go wrong and only one way can go right.
“Given that, we’re being overly careful on the ground and if the team or the car sees anything that seems a little too far away, they’ll stop the countdown.”
Rather than risking the load, the launch was pushed into a spare window on Friday and then delayed again until Saturday.
SpaceX tweeted Friday morning: “To allow extra time to exit, it is now targeting Saturday, December 19, for the launch of the Falcon 9 NROL-108”.
Weather permitting, the launch would see SpaceX Falcon 9 carry a covert spy satellite into orbit for the US Department of Defense National Reconnaissance Office.
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Although very little is known about tomorrow’s payload, it is believed to be a spy satellite for the NRO.
The NRO hinted in a mysterious tweet this week that the satellite would protect US interests.
NRO tweeted: “Gorillas are peaceful animals but can be ferocious when necessary.
“Like gorillas, our # NROL108 mission is constantly vigilant and ready to defend itself, demonstrating NRO’s commitment to protecting US war fighters, interests, and allies. NET launched December 17th with SpaceX”
The US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron on Friday forecast a 90% chance of a favorable launch day weather.
The forecast: “On Saturday, the winds will turn easterly and weaken as the center of high pressure moves north towards the mid-Atlantic.
“These onshore winds will bring clouds that will develop over the warm waters towards the space coast.
“The main weather concern for Saturday’s attempt is cumulus clouds associated with these coastal rains.”