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SpaceX aborts launch of Falcon 9 rocket carrying 46 Starlink satellites

A SpaceX rocket sits on a launchpad in dense fog at Vandenberg Space Force Base.
SpaceX aborted the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a payload of the company's Starlink internet satellites just before liftoff on Thursday (July 21) (Image credit: SpaceX via YouTube)

SpaceX aborted the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a payload of the company's Starlink internet satellites just before liftoff on Thursday (July 21).

The Falcon 9 rocket was just 46 seconds away from launch when mission controllers announced the abort. The rocket, which has flown three times before, was set to launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The mission is carrying 46 of the company's Starlink internet satellites and would have marked SpaceX's 32nd launch of 22, surpassing the company's 2021 record of 31 launches.

Following the abort, SpaceX announced via Twitter (opens in new tab) that the launch has been rescheduled for tomorrow (June 22) at 1:39 p.m. EDT (5:39 p.m. GMT or 10:39 a.m. local time at the launch pad). The company has not offered any details about the cause of the abort.

Related: SpaceX's Starlink satellites will help improve space weather forecasts amid sun's unpredictable activity

"There are a thousand ways a launch can go wrong, and only one way that it can go right," SpaceX quality systems engineering manager Kate Tice said during live launch commentary. "Given that, we are overly cautious on the ground, and if the team or the vehicle sees anything that looks even slightly off, they will stop the countdown as we saw today. The vehicle and the payload are in good health and the team gave it their best effort to recycle within the window, but [launch is] not in the cards for today."

It was a gray day at the company's California launch site; the broadcast showed a launchpad covered in fog that completely obscured the rocket as rain dotted the camera lens.

Dense fog shrouds the launchpad at Vandenberg Space Force Base.

Dense fog shrouded the launchpad at Vandenberg Space Force Base on Thursday (July 21). (Image credit: SpaceX via YouTube)

You can watch Friday's launch attempt, including the Falcon 9's first stage landing attempt on the SpaceX "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship in the Pacific Ocean, here at Space.com or directly on SpaceX's YouTube (opens in new tab) channel. SpaceX's coverage typically begins some 15 minutes prior to launch, but all launches are subject to changes due to technical issues or weather.

SpaceX has successfully launched three groups of Starlink satellites so far this month from its Florida launch site, most recently on Sunday (July 17). That launch saw its Falcon 9 rocket's first stage successfully make its landing on Just Read the Instructions.

SpaceX has launched over 2,800 Starlink satellites (opens in new tab) to date, 2,115 of which are believed to be operational, according to astronomer Jonathan McDowell. The satellites are designed to provide global high-speed internet coverage, particularly in remote or underdeveloped locations.

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Brett Tingley
Brett Tingley

Brett is a science and technology journalist who is curious about emerging concepts in spaceflight and aerospace, alternative launch concepts, anti-satellite technologies, and uncrewed systems. Brett's work has appeared on The War Zone at TheDrive.com, Popular Science, the History Channel, Science Discovery, and more. Brett obtained a Bachelor’s degree in English from Clemson University and a Master’s degree in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In his free time, Brett is a working musician, a hobbyist electronics engineer and cosplayer, an avid LEGO fan, and enjoys hiking and camping throughout the Appalachian Mountains with his wife and two children.