Rocket startup ABL Space Systems targeting Jan. 10 for debut launch

A view of the first RS1 rocket by ABL Space Systems on its pad on Kodiak Island, Alaska on during a Nov. 17, 2022 launch attempt.
A view of the first RS1 rocket by ABL Space Systems on its pad on Kodiak Island, Alaska on during a Nov. 17, 2022 launch attempt. (Image credit: ABL Space Systems)

ABL Space Systems has pushed the debut liftoff of its RS1 rocket back a day to Tuesday (Jan. 10), citing high winds at its Alaska launch site.

The California-based startup tried to launch its RS1 rocket multiple times from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska in November 2022 but was thwarted on each occasion by technical issues. Another attempt on Dec. 8 was scrubbed six minutes before liftoff when the launch team noticed abnormal data readings from the rocket.

That latest issue likely has a "thermoelectrical or thermomechanical root cause," ABL representatives said via Twitter on Dec. 13 (opens in new tab). The company stood down to address it, delaying the next liftoff attempt to Jan. 9 at the earliest (opens in new tab).

That try has now been pushed back by an additional day, to Tuesday (Jan. 10), due to high winds at the launch site, ABL said via Twitter on Monday (opens in new tab) (Jan. 9). ABL will attempt to launch at 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) on Tuesday, but the liftoff will apparently not be livestreamed; the company will provide updates on the mission via Twitter.

Related: Rocket startup ABL Space Systems aborts 3rd launch attempt in a week

ABL Space Systems, which was founded in 2017, intends to snare a large share of the small-satellite launch market with the RS1. 

The 88-foot-tall (27 meters) rocket can deliver up to 2,975 pounds (1,350 kilograms) to low Earth orbit on each flight, according to the company. ABL is currently selling missions aboard the rocket for $12 million apiece.

Though the coming mission is a test flight, the RS1 is carrying operational satellites: The rocket will try to deliver to orbit two cubesats called VariSat-1A and VariSat-1B. The shoebox-sized satellites will test marine data communications operations for the company VariSat LLC, if all goes according to plan.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 3:55 p.m. EST on Jan. 9 with news of the latest launch delay, to no earlier than Jan. 10.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).  

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.