SpaceX Cancels Launch Of Military Satellite Due To Strong Winds

Space X rocket
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

SpaceX found that the weather was not on its side when they tried to launch a military satellite on Saturday. Elon Musk’s rocket ship company tweeted that they were unable to complete the launch because of adverse weather conditions.

“Standing down today due to strong upper-level winds. Team is proceeding with the count until T-30 seconds for data collection. Next launch attempt is tomorrow at 8:51 a.m. EST, 13:51 UTC,” the tweet read.

According to Reuters, this is the fourth attempt that SpaceX has made to launch the satellite. Each of their attempts has been thwarted by technical and weather problems.

“We did have a hold called for upper-level wind conditions that weren’t in bounds for flight,” Tom Praderio, a SpaceX firmware engineer, said during the attempted launch, according to Space.com.

Space.com reports that the GPS III SV01 satellite is about the size of an SUV and is designed to provide precise navigation assistance to the U.S. military. Its name, Vespucci, is inspired by the 15th-century Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci. Built by Lockheed Martin, when it’s finally launched, the GPS III SV01 it will take over from the much older SVN-43 GPS satellite which has been in orbit since 1997.

Reuters reports that this is SpaceX’s first military space mission after it tried for several years to wrest national security-related contracts from to United Launch Alliance, the name given to a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed. SpaceX, founded by billionaire inventor Elon Musk, threatened to take their grievances before a judge when they sued the U.S. Air Force in 2014 for awarding a very lucrative defense contract to the United Launch Alliance. Musk’s company abandoned the lawsuit in 2015 when the Air Force said that they would allow the market for contracts to open up.

SpaceX got over $80 million dollars to launch the GPS III SV01 satellite. The launch was supposed to happen in 2014 but the project had been held up by production challenges.

“Once fully operational, this latest generation of GPS satellites will bring new capabilities to users, including three times greater accuracy and up to eight times the anti-jamming capabilities,” said William Russell, a spokesperson for the U.S. Air Force.

If its next launch is successful, this will be SpaceX’s last launch of their Falcon 9 rocket this year. the Verge reports that there were some worries that the launch would be stymied by the partial government shutdown because the US Air Force’s 45th Space Wing assists with these flights. But the shutdown won’t affect the US Air Force because the Department of Defense’s funding has already been approved.