SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket aborts double-satellite launch at last minute

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad at sunset
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Intelsat's Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 satellites on its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida after an automatic abort on Oct. 6, 2022. (Image credit: SpaceX)

A veteran SpaceX rocket poised to make its 14th flight aborted a launch attempt on Thursday (Oct. 6) with less than one minute before liftoff.

The Falcon 9 rocket was slated to launch two communications payloads for Intelsat, the Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 satellites, when it initiated an automatic abort just 30 seconds before a planned liftoff from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 7:20 p.m. EDT (2320 GMT). SpaceX said it will make a second attempt to launch the mission on Friday (Oct. 7) at 7:06 p.m. EDT (2306 GMT).  You can watch the SpaceX launch live online, courtesy of SpaceX, starting about 15 minutes before liftoff.

Related: 8 ways that SpaceX has transformed spaceflight

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the automatic abort was triggered by a slight helium leak on the rocket. 

"Tiny helium leak (just barely triggered abort), but we take no risks with customer satellites," Musk wrote on Twitter after the abort. "Standing down to investigate."

SpaceX reported both Galaxy satellites are fine and prepared for a new launch try.

"Rocket and payload are in good health—teams are working toward tomorrow's 69-minute launch window opening at 7:06 p.m. ET," the company wrote on Twitter. 

The upcoming SpaceX mission will mark the company's third launch in three days. SpaceX launched four astronauts to the International Space Station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday (Oct. 5) and followed that up hours later with the launch of 52 satellites from California's Vandenberg Space Force Base on the same day. 

The Crew-5 astronaut launch, which included the first Russian cosmonaut to fly on a Dragon capsule, arrived at the station Thursday afternoon. 

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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.