SpaceX halts US satellite launch for national security mission

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It's scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 8:57 p.m. EST (5:57 p.m. PST). The mission will send the United States Air Force's first GPS III space vehicle into "medium Earth orbit".

Four different companies have rocket launches slated for 18 December: Elon Musk's SpaceX, Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, France's Arianespace and United Launch Alliance, the joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Compared with their predecessors, GPS III satellites will have a stronger military signal that's harder to jam - an improvement that became more urgent after Norway accused Russian Federation of disrupting GPS signals during a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation military exercise this fall.

Encapsulated in the SpaceX payload fairing is a GPS III satellite, the first of the next-generation of Global Positioning System satellites to be put into orbit.

The next rocket launch from Florida's Space Coast is coming Tuesday morning. The launch window opens at 9:07 a.m.

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We're sure there is an incredible amount of disappointment for the actual scientists and engineers involved with any rocket launch delay, but it's not so bad for the rest of us.

Tuesday to be a pretty incredible day of rocket launches, with SpaceX, Arianespace, and United Launch Alliance all on the pad for their final orbital missions of 2019. On August 20, the satellite was brought to Cape Canaveral through a huge aircraft Air Force C-17.

Also due to launch later today was a rocket made by French company Arianespace, but this has also been delayed until tomorrow because of "unfavorable high-altitude wind conditions", the company said this afternoon. It's the most cyber secure space system in the U.S. Department of Defense. On Tuesday, a ground equipment issue forced Blue Origin to call off the attempted suborbital launch of its New Shepard spacecraft from West Texas. The long-awaited flight already had slipped to almost the end of the available launch window because of high upper level winds when the issue cropped up.

Of course, if the Delta IV Heavy scrubs on Tuesday evening, it likely would roll over 24 hours, so we still could have the potential for five launches in 24 hours.

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