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January 5th, 2017

SpaceX's Delay-a-Day...On a One Day Hold

SpaceX Falcon at launch.

Looks like another delay for SpaceX's Falcon 9's launch, but this time it's only one day at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Officials announced at the start of week their plans to aim for a 10:28 a.m. Sunday departure, notices warning boaters and pilots of an upcoming launch and about areas to avoid due to a rocket launch or missile test from the base now say the mission is targeting Monday, January 9.

The one-day delay means the launch time is expected to be a few minutes earlier to ensure the satellites are placed where needed in space.

As SpaceX crews attempted to conduct a countdown rehearsal and engine test firing at Vandenberg the engines ignited before turning off seconds later, while the rocket remains anchored to the launch pad.

On Thursday afternoon, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced on Twitter, "Hold-down firing of @SpaceX Falcon 9 at Vandenberg Air Force completed. All systems are go for launch next week." The Falcon rocket will carry 10 Iridium Next satellites, the first set for a second-generation constellation of craft for the satellite-phone system.

During a similar test September1 in Florida, a flaw in the design led to an explosion of the rocket that destroyed its payload. Since then, engineers have been sifting through data to pinpoint the likely cause of this mishap.

On January 2, officials announced the results of the failure review, short- and long-term fixes and the planned Sunday launch attempt, although the mission still needs Federal Aviation Administration approval. 

“The FAA has received the mishap investigation report from SpaceX and it is under review,” Hank Price, spokesman for the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation, said Wednesday. “The FAA continues to work closely with SpaceX as they conduct the investigation and prepare for future Falcon 9 launches, in compliance with all applicable regulations and license requirements.

“The FAA has not yet issued a license to SpaceX for a launch in January,” Price added.