(Reuters) – Rain and wind forced cancellation of a scheduled morning launch of a Falcon 9 rocket that was carrying a global positioning system satellite into space for the us Air Force, SpaceX said on Thursday.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the planned launch of a U. S. Air Force navigation satellite, sits on Launch Complex 40 after the launch was delayed after an aborted procedure was set in motion by the on board computer, on Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, 18 December 2018. REUTERS/Steve Nesius/File Photo
The company was founded by billionaire Elon Musk, said the rocket’s cargo, an approximately $500 million GPS satellite built by Lockheed Martin Corp, “in good health” and that the plan was to announce a new launch date.
“Standing down today due to the weather,” SpaceX said on Twitter a little more than 30 minutes before the planned launch shortly after 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT).
He said that the “working in the direction of the next best start possible.”
The cancellation, which followed two previous failed launch attempts this week, came as thunderstorms and gusts of wind swirled around Florida to Cape Canaveral.
Patrick Burke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, said the weather may not clear until Saturday.
On Tuesday, SpaceX stopped for a scheduled launch minutes before the launch due to a technical problem.
A second attempt to launch was canceled early on Wednesday due to a technical problem with the rocket.
A successful launch would be a major victory for Musk, an entrepreneur who spent years trying to break into the lucrative market for military space launches long dominated by Lockheed and Boeing Co.
It marks SpaceX’s first so-called National Security Space mission, as defined by the U.S. military, SpaceX said.
SpaceX has won an $83 million air force contract in 2016 and the launch of the GPS III satellite, which have a lifespan of 15 years.
The launch would be the first of 32 satellites in production by Lockheed under contracts worth a combined $12.6 billion for the air force GPS III program, Lockheed spokesman Chip Eschenfelder said.
Air Force spokesman William Russell said: “Once fully operational, this latest generation of GPS satellites brings new opportunities to users, including three times better accuracy and up to eight times the anti-jamming capabilities.”
The launch was originally scheduled for 2014, but has been hobbled by production delays, the air force said.
The next GPS III satellite is due to launch mid-2019, Eschenfelder said, while in later satellites are undergoing testing in the company’s Colorado processing facility.
Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Peter Szekely in New York; Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson and Joey Roulette in Seattle; Editing by Paul Tait and Jonathan Oatis