KEY POINTS

  • SpaceX aborted the launch of the new batch of Starlink satellites
  • The company detected an issue with the Falcon 9 rocket
  • The launch was aborted at the very last second

SpaceX narrowly missed a potential major mishap after deciding to abort the launch of the latest batch of Starlink satellites. The company confirmed that a technical issue with its Falcon 9 rocket prompted the abort procedure.

The recent event was for the 6th launch of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, which is an artificial constellation project designed to deliver high-speed internet from space. If the launch proceeded, SpaceX would have a total of 360 Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit.

The latest launch of the satellites was supposed to take place on March 15 at 9:22 a.m. EDT at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Prior to the launch, everything went smoothly for SpaceX. However, as the countdown sequence was initiated, the company detected a power issue with one of the engines of the Falcon 9 rocket.

The issue immediately prompted SpaceX to abort the launch at the final second. According to SpaceX officials, the launch stopped at the T-0 mark of the countdown.

“We had a condition regarding engine power that caused us to abort today’s launch,” Michael Andrews, the supply chain manager for SpaceX said, according to Space.com. “Prior to that the countdown was proceeding normally.”

As noted by Andrews, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is equipped with various safety features designed to automatically trigger abort procedures for launches after detecting a technical issue. These features are the main reason why the launch was aborted at the last second.

“There are a thousand ways a launch can go wrong, but only one way the launch can go right,” Andrews stated. “Given that, we are overly cautious on the ground, and if the team sees anything that looks even slightly off, we'll stop the countdown.”

According to SpaceX, it will try to launch the latest batch of Starlink satellites later this week. If all goes well for the company, the launch could proceed on March 18.

Originally, SpaceX planned to launch a total of 12,000 satellites for its Starlink project. However, documents filed by the company last year revealed that it was preparing to launch an additional 30,000 units for the project, bringing the total number of satellites to 42,000.

Falcon 9 Rocket The Falcon 9's next liftoff date is just a few days away. Pictured: In this handout image provided by NASA, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen with the NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft and onboard, Monday, May 21, 2018, at Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo: Getty Images/Bill Ingalls