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SpaceX Postpones Rocket Launch After 'Tiny Glitch'

May 27, 2016
Musk: “There was a tiny glitch in the motion of an upper stage engine actuator. Probably not a flight risk, but still worth investigating.”

MIAMI — SpaceX postponed the launch of an Asian communications satellite after detecting a “tiny glitch” in the Falcon 9 rocket engine, CEO Elon Musk said.

“There was a tiny glitch in the motion of an upper stage engine actuator,” Musk said on Twitter. “Probably not a flight risk but still worth investigating.”

The next attempt at launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida will be today at the earliest, the head of the California-based company said without specifying a time.

The missions aim to propel the Thaicom 8 satellite to a distant orbit some 22,250 miles from Earth. The satellite, built by Orbital ATK, will provide broadcast and data services to South Asia and Southeast Asia.

After launch, SpaceX plans to maneuver the tall portion of the rocket — known as the first stage — to an upright landing on a platform floating in the Atlantic Ocean, but it cautioned that the speed and heat involved make the prospect of success uncertain.

“As with other missions going to geostationary orbits, the first stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing challenging,” SpaceX said in a statement.

The outcome of the return attempt is usually made public by SpaceX within half an hour of the launch. SpaceX has successfully landed its rockets on solid ground and on the floating barge, known as a drone ship.

Musk wants to revolutionize the launch industry by making rocket components reusable, much the same way as commercial airplanes. Currently, expensive rocket parts are jettisoned into the ocean after each launch.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2016

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