Yesterday — Tuesday, December 18th — was supposed to be a marquee day for space agencies and private spaceflight companies around the world. A total of four rocket launches were scheduled to take place within roughly half a day’s time, and the big stars of the show were going to be SpaceX and Blue Origin.
Things didn’t go as planned.
Both SpaceX and Blue Origin were forced to abort their individual launches due to specific issues that popped up at the last second. SpaceX said its rocket threw an abort alert due to a sensor issue, while Blue Origin explained that a “ground infrastructure issue” was to blame for its own delay. Both companies then targeted Wednesday for their respective launches and now both companies have cancelled those plans yet again. What a week!
“We are scrubbing today’s #NewShepard launch due to a ground infrastructure issue. The vehicle is in good standing. Stand by for updates as we see what weather looks like for tomorrow #NS10,” Blue Origin tweeted on Tuesday following their decision to abort their launch plans. Then, on Tuesday evening, the company clarified that it wouldn’t actually be ready to go on Wednesday after all.
Still working through ground infrastructure issues and monitoring incoming weather in West Texas. Slating next launch window NET Friday 12/21 pending further review. Stay tuned for updates as we learn more #NS10
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) December 19, 2018
SpaceX, which has had an incredibly busy year with several flawless launches and rocket recoveries, seemed to be in better shape after the launch hold on Tuesday. The company noted that it would target roughly the same launch window on Wednesday and then went quiet as they presumably got things in order.
Then, early Wednesday morning, the company announced the bad news:
Standing down from today’s launch attempt of GPS III SV01 to further evaluate out of family reading on first stage sensors; will confirm a new launch date once complete.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 19, 2018
Rocket launches can be tricky things, and delays are something we’ve all come to expect. That being said, it’s a bit funny that the two private spaceflight companies leading the charge in the United States have both hit snags on a week that was supposed to be every rocket geek’s dream come true.