ORLANDO, Fla., March 15 (UPI) -- A problem with power to the rocket forced a last-minute abort of SpaceX's planned launch of 60 Starlink communications satellites Sunday morning from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Falcon 9, burning rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen, was to lift off in ideal weather, using its first stage for the fifth time -- a tribute to the company's goal to reuse hardware for future missions.
But computers stopped the countdown with just seconds to go, ending the attempt for the day. SpaceX did not immediately set a new launch date.
The launch from Complex 39A was to boost the number of Starlink satellites in orbit to 362 -- by far the largest known satellite constellation.
The space firm launched 60 Starlink satellites at a time in May, November, on Jan. 6 and 29 and Feb. 17, with two test satellites launched before that.
If all continues on track for Starlink, 100 or more such Starlink launches could occur in the next few years. SpaceX intends ultimately to launch thousands of satellites to beam broadband around the globe to provide high-speed Internet everywhere, even in extreme weather or aboard high-speed jets.
Starlink has drawn some concern from astronomers and stargazers who have seen the satellites as they reflect sunlight. In response, SpaceX launched a satellite in January with a non-reflective coating, to see if it is less visible on the ground.
The company has said it could take months before they can evaluate the coating. SpaceX didn't respond to a request for an update.
The Starlink satellites detach from the rocket's second stage at an altitude of about 180 miles. SpaceX engineers then conduct data reviews to ensure all Starlink satellites are operating as intended. Once the checkouts are complete, the satellites use onboard ion thrusters to move into the final orbit height.