Elon Musk’s SpaceX has cancelled the long-delayed launch of a navigation satellite for the US military, failing to complete its first designated national security mission for the United States because of technical issue with its rocket.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, carrying a roughly $500m global positioning system (GPS) satellite built by Lockheed Martin Corp, was slated to take off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral shortly after 9am local time (14.00GMT) on Wednesday.
But SpaceX said on Twitter it was standing down from the launch attempt of the GPS III to further evaluate an “out of family” reading on the rocket’s first-stage sensors and would confirm a new launch date once that review was complete.
A successful launch would have been a significant victory for Musk, a billionaire entrepreneur who spent years trying to break into the lucrative market for military space launches long dominated by Lockheed and Boeing Co.
It was to mark SpaceX’s first so-called national security space mission, as defined by the US military, SpaceX said.
SpaceX sued the US Air Force in 2014 in protest over the military’s award of a multibillion-dollar, non-compete contract for 36 rocket launches to United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed. It later dropped the lawsuit after the air force agreed to open up competition.
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