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SpaceX scrubs Falcon 9 rocket launch to replace sensor

By Brooks Hays and Daniel Uria
SpaceX scrubs Falcon 9 rocket launch to replace sensor
Space X scrapped the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket on Tuesday to replace a sensor. The company plans to attempt another launch on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of SpaceX/Twitter.

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- SpaceX scrubbed the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket Tuesday to allow engineers time to swap out a sensor on the booster, the company said.

The launch will take place no earlier than Wednesday in a window between 4:25 p.m. EST and 6:46 p.m. EST, the company said.

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"Standing down for today. Team is going to replace a second stage sensor. Next available launch opportunity is tomorrow, January 31," SpaceX wrote on Twitter.

Weather conditions, which included stiff ground winds on Tuesday, are expected to be more favorable for the planned Wednesday launch.

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The two-stage Falcon 9 was set to launch the GovSat 1 communications craft from a SpaceX launch pad at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The first of the rocket's two stages previously helped carry a spy satellite into orbit for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office last spring. After its inaugural launch, the first stage returned to Earth for a controlled landing. This time around, the first stage will splash down into the ocean.

So far, Falcon 9 boosters have been limited to two flights before being retired. The reusability of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets has helped pare launch costs. The current iteration of the Falcon 9 rocket is known as Block 4.

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The aerospace company plans to shrink launch costs further by using future reusable rocket stages -- the Block 5 version -- for as many as ten different flights.

The satellite being put into orbit will provide communication services for the government of Luxembourg. The mission is a joint-venture between the small European country and the commercial-satellite company SES. Orbital ATK, a U.S. company, designed and built the satellite.

The launch is an important one for SpaceX. It marks the first flight since the controversial and secretive Zuma mission launch reportedly failed.

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SpaceX claimed its rocket performed as expected, implying the blame for the Zuma mission lay elsewhere. The Pentagon has deflected questions to SpaceX, while one SpaceX customer said the blame lies with the maker of the secret spacecraft, Northrop Grumman.

Next week, SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket, the most powerful in the world. Last week, the megarocket successfully ignited all of its 27 engines at once during a static fire test.

SpaceX expects the Falcon Heavy to eventually ferry crew and cargo between Earth and Mars. Elon Musk has also said the rocket will carry a pair of civilians on a week-long trip around the moon.

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