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SpaceX delays Monday morning rocket launch at Vandenberg

Watch a SpaceX rocket launch light up night sky in Pismo Beach

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Sunday, October 7, 2018, as seen in this view from Pismo Beach. The booster of the rocket made a return landing at the base for the first time.
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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Sunday, October 7, 2018, as seen in this view from Pismo Beach. The booster of the rocket made a return landing at the base for the first time.

A planned Monday morning Falcon 9 rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base has been delayed to give the launch team time to complete more inspections.

The SpaceX rocket is set to carry dozens of satellites into space. Liftoff, which had been planned for between 10:31 and 11 a.m. Monday, will be delayed less than a week, according to sources connected to the mission.

“Standing down from Monday’s launch attempt of Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express to conduct additional pre-flight inspections,” SpaceX reported Saturday on its Twitter page. “Once complete, we will confirm a new launch date.”

The delay comes after SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 rocket Thursday in Florida, placing a communications satellite in orbit for Qatar’s military.

Hours after that launch, SpaceX successfully conducted a static fire test at Vandenberg, a step to clear the way for a launch to proceed.

But on Saturday, several sources revealed the launch had been delayed — possibly for five to six days.

On board the Falcon rocket will be the Washington-based Spaceflight Industries’ SSO-A SmallSat Express, made up of 64 spacecraft from 34 organizations.

The flight will include 15 microsats and 49 cubesats from both commercial organizations and government agencies.

A set of cremated human remains, from San Francisco-based Elysium Space, make up the payload for one satellite bringing space burials back to Vandenberg.

The spacecraft will carry representative samples of cremains for approximately 100 people. Other satellites will test technology for government agencies or institutions.

For instance, the rocket will carry the Air Force’s STPSat-5, one of several Defense Department missions launching on the commercial flight.

STPSat-5 is a science and technology mission designed to host five small military payloads to demonstrate the capabilities of low-cost spacecraft to meet the needs of low-Earth orbit (LEO) missions, according to the Space & Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base.

Several sites around the Lompoc Valley offer views of VAFB rocket launches.

On the day of launch, Jalama Beach County Park south of Vandenberg will be evacuated for several hours due to safety reasons.

As a daylight departure, the Falcon 9 rocket’s flight isn’t expected to create the kind of celestial show seen during the twilight liftoff and flyback in early October.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.
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