SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch delayed by high winds

Launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a powerful EchoStar communications satellite was scrubbed early Tuesday because of high winds associated with stormy weather across central Florida.

SpaceX had hoped to launch the rocket at 1:34 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) Tuesday, the opening of a two-and-a-half-hour window. But the countdown was halted 39 minutes before launch when it became apparent the weather was not cooperating.

A new launch date was not immediately announced, but the company said earlier the next available window would open at 1:35 a.m. Thursday. Forecasters predict a 90 percent chance of acceptable weather.

This will be the California rocket builder’s third launch of a Falcon 9 since a spectacular explosion Sept. 1 at the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station that destroyed another booster and its $200 million satellite payload.

SpaceX returned to flight Jan. 14, successfully launching 10 Iridium NEXT satellite telephone relay stations from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The company then launched a space station cargo ship from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 19. SpaceX hopes to make it three in a row with the EchoStar launch.

  • William Harwood

    Bill Harwood has been covering the U.S. space program full-time since 1984, first as Cape Canaveral bureau chief for United Press International and now as a consultant for CBS News. He covered 129 space shuttle missions, every interplanetary flight since Voyager 2's flyby of Neptune and scores of commercial and military launches. Based at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Harwood is a devoted amateur astronomer and co-author of "Comm Check: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia."