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The private spaceflight company SpaceX has postponed its planned weekend launch of an Israeli communications satellite as engineers replace a suspect valve on the company’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceX was initially targeting a launch today (Aug. 3) of the Falcon 9 carrying Amos-17, a communications satellite owned by the Israeli company Spacecom Ltd., from Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. On Thursday (Aug. 1), the company said it would stand down for further rocket checks after test-firing the Falcon 9 a day earlier.
“Team is setting up an additional static fire test of Falcon 9 after replacing a suspect valve,” SpaceX representatives wrote in a Twitter update. “Will confirm updated target launch date for AMOS-17 once complete.”
Team is setting up an additional static fire test of Falcon 9 after replacing a suspect valve. Will confirm updated target launch date for AMOS-17 once complete.August 1, 2019
A static fire is a standard prelaunch test for SpaceX missions in which the company briefly ignites a Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage on the launchpad to make sure the booster is ready for flight.
The Falcon 9 first stage booster for this mission has flown twice before, according to SpaceX. It first launched in July 2018, delivering the Telsar 19 Vantage satellite into orbit, then again in November of that same year carrying the Es’hail 2 communications satellite into orbit for Qatar.
The launch of Amos-17 will mark the first time a Falcon 9 will launch a Spacecom satellite since the loss of Amos-6, an earlier satellite, on Sept. 1, 2016 as SpaceX prepared for that mission’s static fire test. At the time, SpaceX performed test firings with customer payloads already attached to the Falcon 9, something the company no longer does.
As of early Saturday, SpaceX has not conducted the second Falcon 9 static fire test for the Amos-17 mission, according to Spaceflight Now, which is tracking the company’s activities at SLC-40.
The launch of Amos-17 from SLC-40 follows on the heels of SpaceX’s launch of its Dragon CRS-18 cargo mission for NASA from the same launchpad on July 25.
Editor’s note: This story will be updated once SpaceX announces a new target launch date for the Amos-17 mission.