SpaceX Halts U.S. Satellite Launch for National Security Mission

By Reuters

Elon Musk’s SpaceX halted launch of a long-delayed navigation satellite for the U.S. military on Dec. 18, 2018. postponing for at least a day the space transportation company’s first designated national security mission for the United States.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, carrying a roughly $500 million global positioning system (GPS) satellite built by Lockheed Martin Corp, was due to take off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral shortly after 9:30 a.m. local time (1730 GMT), but was stopped minutes before takeoff.

SpaceX later tweeted that the Falcon 9 and payload remain healthy and that it delayed the launch because of an “out of family” reading on the rocket’s first stage sensors. It also announced that it would attempt the launch on Wednesday morning.

A successful launch would be a significant victory for Musk, a billionaire entrepreneur who spent years trying to break into the market for lucrative military space launches, long dominated by Lockheed and Boeing Co.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Florida to attend the launch, which he called “an important step forward as we seek to secure American leadership in space.” Following the scrubbed operation, Pence congratulated the SpaceX team and announced that President Donald Trump is launching a Combatant Command to oversee all military activities in Space.

The Hawthorne, California-based company has previously launched payloads for the Department of Defense in 2017 that were not designated as a National Security Space missions.