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

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.
The first RS1 rocket built by ABL Space Systems stands atop its pad at the Pacific Spaceport Complex at Kodiak Island, Alaska during a launch attempt on Nov. 17, 2022. (Image credit: ABL Space Systems)

ABL Space Systems, a small satellite launching startup aiming to make its rocket debut, aborted its third launch attempt in less than a week on Monday (Nov. 21). 

The planned RS1 rocket launch, which was targeted for 5:32 p.m. EST (2232 GMT) from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska, aborted less than 2 seconds from liftoff, the California-based company said. The next launch opportunity will be on Dec. 7.

"RS1 aborted during ignition at T-1.75s. The vehicle is healthy, and the team is setting up to offload propellant for today," ABL Space Systems representatives wrote in a Twitter update. "Our next launch window opens on December 7th." The company did not announce an exact cause for the abort.

Monday's abort was the third stalled launch try for ABL Space Systems since Nov. 17, when the company's first launch attempt ended in an abort during engine ignition. An attempt on Saturday (Nov. 19) also ended in an abort 1.8 seconds before launch due to an engine turbopump issue, the company said. An attempt to launch the mission on Nov. 14 was also scrubbed due to a leaky valve.

Based in El Segundo, California, ABL Space Systems was founded in 2017 to build the RS1 rocket, a 88-foot-tall (27 meters) launch vehicle capable of carrying satellites and payloads weighing up to 2,975 pounds (1,350 kilograms) to low Earth orbit. Each mission will cost about $12 million. 

For its debut flight, the RS1 rocket is carrying two small cubesats called VariSat-1A and VariSat-1B, each of which is the size of a shoebox. The two satellites are designed to test marine data communications operations for the company VariSat LLC.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.