SpaceX Falcon 9 launch delayed until Tuesday

Published On: Dec 24 2013 06:21:35 PM EST
Updated On: Dec 02 2013 11:12:55 AM EST
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -

SpaceX is targeting Tuesday for a third attempt to launch the SES-8 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

"Rocket engines are healthy, but cleaning turbopump gas generators will take another day," CEO Elon Musk tweeted earlier. "Aiming for Mon eve launch."

The launch window was first set to open on Monday, but SpaceX officials announced Monday morning that the launch target date would be pushed back to Tuesday, with a back-up plan in place on Wednesday.

Technical issues thwarted the first two launch attempts, last Monday and Thursday.

On Thanksgiving, the Falcon 9 booster's nine engines fired briefly, but cut off when computers sensed thrust building more slowly than expected.

In another Twitter message, Musk said the abort was caused by oxygen in the ground-side igniter system.

Launching Sunday was not an option. As with the two days before Thanksgiving, the Federal Aviation Administration would not close the air space because of the high volume of air traffic around the holiday.

SpaceX is attempting to launch its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket for the first time from Florida. The 224-foot rocket is carrying its first commercial payload, aiming for an orbit more than 22,000 miles over the equator.

The launch would be the first of a commercial communications satellite from the Cape in four years.

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