Bad weather led to the cancellation of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying a payload of 143 satellites from being launched over the weekend. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet that they were standing down from Saturday’s launch due to unfavorable weather, Arstechnica reports.
The SpaceX launch had been expected on Saturday, January 23. Ahead of the launch that morning, the Falcon 9 had already been fueled, awaiting launch attempt.
However, SpaceX called off the launch attempt due to reported bad weather. The company said that the weather conditions at the Cape Canaveral launch site prevented a safe launch due to the violation of an electric field rule. SpaceX is set to make yet another launch attempt on Sunday morning, utilizing the launch window opening at 10 am ET.
SpaceX had announced the programs for its planned launch in 2019. It was the plan of the company to assemble dozens of small satellites for launch on its Falcon 9 rocket.
General interest in the program had piqued following the unusual cheap price of a launch to deliver a kilogram to a Sun-synchronous orbit at just $15,000. SpaceX’s first Transporter-1 mission was to deliver 133 commercial and government spacecraft, alongside 10 of its own Starlink satellites. The company had garnered the necessary authorization needed to launch its Starlink satellites into the polar orbit, Fox News wrote.
After the launch of the satellites totaling 143, SpaceX would have beaten the currently-held record for the most satellites launched in a single mission. This record is held by the Indian launch vehicle set in 2017. That mission of February 2017 had successfully launched the Pola Satellite Launch Vehicle, delivering 104 satellites into varied Sun-synchronous orbits.
SpaceX is yet to publicly disclose information surrounding its rideshare program, including the number of payloads already scheduled for launches in the future. Many of the company’s clients said they were quite surprised at both the cost and speed of the service on offer by SpaceX. Planet, one of the many clients of SpaceX said they were able to effortlessly book rideshare on the Starlink launch that happened last year summer.
Vice President of Launch at Planet, Mike Safyan, said SpaceX has been able to drastically cut down on the cost of launches. He said his company was particularly taken aback when initially told the price of access to launch at SpaceX. Planet has 48 SuperDove satellites on the Transporter-1 mission.
Other small-time satellite rocket companies would be closely following events as they play themselves out. Companies such as Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit now have proven boosters. Yet, these companies would not be able to offer the rather affordable price given by SpaceX.