Yesterday was supposed to be one of the biggest launches in SpaceX history, with the new Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket heading into space for the very first time. Unfortunately, a bizarre technical hiccup led the mission to be scrubbed with less than a minute left before liftoff. Today, the company hopes to avoid a similar ordeal and finally send its new rocket skyward.
The rocket is the latest and greatest version of the company’s Falcon 9 platform, and it’s designed to be extremely easy to refurbish and reuse. The company says the Block 5 variant “is designed to be capable of 10 or more flights with very limited refurbishment,” which will help cut down time between successive launches, which is something the company has been counting on for some time.
As for what went wrong on Thursday’s launch attempt, SpaceX hasn’t said a whole lot.
“Standing down today due to a standard ground system auto-abort at T-1 min,” the company tweeted shortly after the launch was scrubbed. ” Rocket and payload are in good health — teams are working towards tomorrow’s backup launch opportunity.”
That doesn’t tell us much, but it’s enough to know that whatever caused the launch abort wasn’t serious enough for the entire mission to be delayed. The backup launch window opens today at 4:14 pm EDT and just as on Thursday, that window will remain open for roughly two hours. If for some reason this launch also hits a speed bump, the backup launch window will open on Saturday, May 12, at 4:15 pm EDT.
The mission will see the first communications satellite for the country of Bangladesh placed into orbit. As we noted yesterday, the fact that a country such as Bangladesh — which only just achieved “Developing Country” status from the United Nations in March of this year — is able to afford the launch of a satellite is a credit to SpaceX and the commercial spaceflight industry as a whole. Going forward, competition from other companies and advancements in reusable rocket technology will likely help drive down costs even further, and that’s incredibly exciting.
If you want to watch today’s launch live you can do so via the embedded YouTube window above. The live stream will begin shortly before the launch window opens and, as always, SpaceX will be providing commentary on the launch, mission, and spacecraft as the event unfolds.