Update for June 30, 3:48 pm EDT: SpaceX has successfully launched the 88-satellite Transporter 2 rideshare mission on a Falcon 9 rocket and landed its 1st stage booster. See launch video and photos in our wrap story here.
SpaceX postponed the launch of dozens of satellites just seconds before liftoff on Tuesday (June 29) when a wayward plane crept inside the mission's safety zone.
A used Falcon 9 rocket was just 11 seconds away from launching 88 small satellites into orbit at 2:56 p.m. EDT (1856 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida when SpaceX called a hold in the countdown. A few minutes later, SpaceX production supervisor Andy Tran said the launch was scrubbed for the day.
"Hold called due to Range being no-go; teams are setting up for tomorrow's backup opportunity," SpaceX wrote in a statement on Twitter. The next launch opportunity is on Wednesday (June 30) at 2:56 p.m. EDT (1856 GMT). SpaceX will have about an hour in which to launch the mission.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter that today's launch delay was caused by a plane flying inside the launch range perimeter, a keep-out zone around the rocket's flight path.
"Unfortunately, launch is called off for today, as an aircraft entered the 'keep out zone,' which is unreasonably gigantic," Musk wrote on Twitter in an apparent lament about the restrictive regulations for launch range safety. "There is simply no way that humanity can become a spacefaring civilization without major regulatory reform. The current regulatory system is broken."
Today's launch by SpaceX would have sent 88 satellites into orbit on the company's Transporter 2 rideshare mission. It consists of three SpaceX Starlink internet satellites and 85 small payloads for a wide variety of customers, including Satellogic, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Space Development Agency, Swarm, Spire, Spaceflight Inc. and Loft Orbital, according to a SpaceX overview.
The mission is SpaceX's 20th flight of 2021 and will mark the eighth flight for this particular Falcon 9 first stage. Half of the rocket's clamshell-like payload fairing has also flown in space before.
Space.com contributor Amy Thompson contributed to this report from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com 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 Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, 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 Space.com 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.