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Sun, Feb 12, 2006

Wasn't SpaceX Supposed To Launch Friday?

Launch Scrubbed Over Unidentified Problem

Once again, the scheduled launch of the SpaceX Falcon 1 vehicle was scrubbed Friday, after an as-yet unidentified problem cropped up during a pre-launch countdown test on Kwajalein Atoll that included a brief firing of the rocket's engine.

"We were very happy to be able to execute a flight countdown all the way to lighting the engine," said SpaceX founder Elon Musk on the company's website. "Although there wasn't a launch this time, we made a lot of progress refining the rocket and launch pad -- all work that needed to be done anyway."

SpaceX representatives told Aero-News the rocket was lowered from its launchpad Friday night for further investigation into the anomaly.

Friday's delay marked the third time SpaceX has had to scrub the planned first launch of its rocket, which the company hopes will one day provide satellite customers with a privately-funded alternative to NASA.

Sources at SpaceX report it will likely be two to four weeks before the company tries again.

While such delays are no doubt discouraging to the SpaceX team, Musk has pointed out many times delays are the nature of the rocket biz -- not just for start-ups like SpaceX, but also for established programs such as Boeing's Delta program.

Meanwhile, it looks like the SpaceX crew will again get to spend some quality time on Omalek... where the temperature was a balmy 83 degrees Saturday.

FMI: www.spacex.com

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