SpaceX aborts launch of advanced GPS satellite for the US Space Force

SpaceX aborted the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying an upgraded Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) for the U.S. Space Force on Friday (Oct. 2).

Launch controllers called off the launch about two seconds before the company's Falcon 9 rocket was supposed to lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rocket was scheduled to launch the next-generation GPS III SV04 satellite into orbit at 9:43 p.m. EDT (0143 GMT on Oct. 3). 

The next launch opportunity for this mission is on Saturday at 9:39 p.m. EDT (0139 GMT on Oct. 4), SpaceX principal integration engineer John Insprucker said during a launch commentary.  

Related: The U.S. GPS satellite network explained 

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the GPS III SV04 satellite for the U.S. Space Force stands atop Space Launch Complex 40 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida for an October 2020 launch. (Image credit: SpaceX)

At the time of the abort, it was not clear if SpaceX aborted the launch due to an issue with the rocket or the ground support systems, Insprucker said. Whether SpaceX will be able to try the launch again on Saturday evening will depend on how long it takes the company to identify and solve the problem that led to the abort, he added.

Once launched, the GPS III SV04 satellite will be the fourth in a series of 10 upgraded, next-generation GPS satellites for the U.S. military. SpaceX launched two of these satellites in December 2018 and in June of this year, while one launched on a Delta IV Medium rocket in August 2019. 

Friday's launch abort was the second in two days for SpaceX. 

A different Falcon 9 rocket suffered a launch abort on Thursday while attempting to launch 60 new Starlink internet satellites from Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral near the Air Force station. SpaceX has not officially announced a new launch date for that mission. 

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.