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SpaceX aborts launch attempt of U.S. government spy satellite

SpaceX aborts launch attempt of U.S. government spy satellite
A SpaceX Falcon 9 was to launch a spy satellite for the U.S. government from Florida on Thursday, but they mission was scrubbed with fewer than two minutes left on the countdown clock. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- SpaceX on Thursday postponed the company's second spy satellite mission for the U.S. government due to a slightly high pressure reading in an upper stage liquid oxygen tank on the Falcon 9 rocket.

The countdown stopped at 1 minute, 53 seconds before the planned 9:45 a.m. EST liftoff from Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX said it plans another attempt Friday morning.

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"At this point, the vehicle and payload both appear to be in good health," Andy Tran, a SpaceX avionics production supervisor, said during a live broadcast by the company. "We do have a good shot tomorrow to send this NROL-108 satellite into orbit."

As part of the launch, Elon Musk's company intends to land the first-stage booster of the rocket on a landing pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, about 10 miles south of the launch site.

The company first launched a U.S. spy satellite, NROL-76, in May 2017 for the National Reconnaissance Office, which is part of the Department of Defense. Most such missions have been conducted in recent years by United Launch Alliance.

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The government says very little about such classified missions, except that the rocket is carrying a "national security payload designed, built and operated by the agency ... to provide intelligence data to the United States' senior policymakers, intelligence agencies and the defense department."

The National Reconnaissance Office's mission is to provide information for intelligence requirements, research and development, and to assist in emergency and disaster relief.

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Support teams work around the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft shortly after it landed with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Victor Glover and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi aboard in the Gulf of Mexico off Panama City, Fla., on Sunday. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA | License Photo

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