ABL Space Systems now targeting Thursday for 1st-ever launch after glitch
A new rocket is set to make its debut on Thursday (Nov. 17).
ABL Space Systems tried to launch its RS1 rocket from Alaska’s Pacific Spaceport Complex on Monday (Nov. 14) but scrubbed the attempt (opens in new tab) after noticing abnormal data during fuel loading.
The California-based company quickly identified and fixed the problem, a leaky valve (opens in new tab) in the rocket’s pressurization system. ABL is now gearing up for its next try, which will come on Thursday during a three-hour window that opens at 5 p.m. EST (2200 GMT), the company announced via Twitter (opens in new tab) on Tuesday.
The launch will apparently not be livestreamed — Monday’s attempt was not — so we’ll have to rely on updates from ABL about how things are going on Thursday.
Related: A history of rockets
Due to high winds today and tomorrow, we are targeting our next launch attempt on Thursday 11/17 with a window opening at 1pm AKST (10pm UTC).November 15, 2022
ABL, which was founded in 2017, aims to carve out a niche in the small-satellite launch market with the 88-foot-tall (27 meters) RS1, which can deliver up to 2,975 pounds (1,350 kilograms) of payload to low Earth orbit (LEO) on each $12 million mission.
The rocket and its associated ground system are designed to be quickly deployable. The ground system, for example, packs into shipping containers and can be set up at any launch site around the world that has a suitably flat surface, company representatives say.
Thursday’s mission is a test flight that will carry two shoebox-sized cubesats to low Earth orbit. The satellites, each of which weighs about 24 pounds (11 kilograms), will test marine data communications operations for the company ViaSat LLC.
The current launch window runs through next Monday (Nov. 21). The faulty valve was apparently fixed in time for a Tuesday try, but forecasts called for high winds on Tuesday and Wednesday, convincing ABL to shoot for Thursday instead, the company said via Twitter (opens in new tab).
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).