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SpaceX scrubs first attempt at launch on Wednesday, waits for second window [Updated]

December 8, 2010 |  7:16 am


SpaceX, the Hawthorne-based rocket venture, has its Falcon 9 rocket upright at Cape Canaveral, Fla., ready to launch the Dragon capsule into low Earth orbit.

If the mission is successful, it would mark the first time a commercial spacecraft attains orbit and survives the fiery reentry back to Earth. Only five countries and one intergovernmental agency have been able to launch a spacecraft and have it successfully reenter the Earth's atmosphere: the U.S., Russia, China, Japan, India and the European Space Agency.

The company, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp., aborted its first attempt at launch at 6:06 a.m. for unknown reasons. Stay tuned.

SpaceX has two more launch windows Wednesday. The first is from 7:38 to 7:43 a.m. The second is 9:16 to 9:23 a.m.

In the unmanned test launch, the capsule would be lifted into space by a Falcon 9 rocket, also developed by SpaceX. The capsule is scheduled to orbit the Earth twice before reentering the atmosphere and splashing down in the Pacific about 500 miles west of Southern California. The craft would deploy parachutes to slow its descent.

The entire undertaking is expected to take about four hours. It is being webcasted at the company's website.

[Updated Wednesday, 7:30 a.m.: According to SpaceX, the new target launch time is 7:43 a.m. "False telemetry reading caused earlier abort. Data corrected and we are tracking for our next attempt."]

[Updated Wednesday, 7:55 a.m.: Lift off appeared to go off without a hitch. Dragon seemed to reach low Earth orbit approximately 10 minutes after launch. Shortly thereafter, the live video cut out.]

[Updated Wednesday, 8:05 a.m.: The company tweeted: "Beautiful launch! Dragon is in orbit. Will provide status updates as available."]


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--W.J. Hennigan

Photo: SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon capsule lifts off Wednesday from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canavera, Fla. Credit: Scott Audette/Reuters