Musk to visit SpaceX launchpad after mission aborts, delays

Slideshow ( 2 images )

(Reuters) - SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk said he will visit his space company’s Florida rocket facilities this week to investigate the cause of recent launch aborts and delays that have held up a busy mission schedule for the company’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket.

The space company last week halted two back-to-back Falcon 9 missions - one packed with 60 SpaceX Starlink satellites and the other carrying a GPS satellite for the U.S. Air Force - over technical issues detected less than 30 seconds before planned liftoff from a launchpad in Florida.

SpaceX postponed the Starlink launch to Monday morning, but bad weather forced another delay.

“We’re doing a broad review of launch site, propulsion, structures, avionics, range & regulatory constraints this weekend,” Musk tweeted early Saturday after SpaceX called off the launch for the GPS satellite two seconds before liftoff. “I will also be at the Cape next week to review hardware in person.”

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment on the scrubs - rocket industry slang for an inconvenient launch delay.

A heavy-lift rocket from United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp, has also faced several scrubs since the company’s first launch attempt in late August, delaying its mission to send a classified Pentagon satellite to space. A rare last-second abort was triggered automatically as the rocket was igniting its engines.

Rocket enthusiasts on Twitter have coined the spate of launch delays “Scrubtoberfest” as SpaceX and ULA, the top two U.S. space launch companies, scramble to get their rockets back on schedule.

Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Bill Berkrot