A Falcon 9 rocket stands on pad 40 Saturday at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: SpaceX
SpaceX is readying two Falcon 9 rockets for a pair of flights nine hours apart Sunday from separate pads along Florida’s Space Coast. Weather permitting, the back-to-back departures Sunday would mark shortest span between two orbital-class launches from Cape Canaveral since 1966.
SpaceX’s two missions Sunday come on the heels of a dramatic abort just before the planned liftoff of a powerful Delta 4-Heavy rocket early Saturday.
The triple-core Delta 4-Heavy rocket, built by United Launch Alliance, was counting down to launch at 3:28 a.m. EDT (0728 GMT) Saturday with a classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. government’s spy satellite agency.
But a computer controlling the final moments of the countdown commanded an abort during the rocket’s ignition sequence.
A ULA spokesperson said one of the Delta 4-Heavy’s three Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A engines — mounted under the rocket’s starboard booster — had already ignited when the abort was triggered three seconds before liftoff. The starboard engine ignites first in the Delta 4-Heavy’s staggered engine startup sequence.
ULA said Saturday the Delta 4-Heavy launch would be grounded for a minimum of ...