Latest SpaceX launch -- to put satellite into orbit -- called off

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Story highlights

  • A SpaceX launch from Florida's Cape Canaveral is aborted at the last minute
  • "Better to be paranoid and wrong," tweets the company's founder, Elon Musk
  • Its spacecraft is set to carry a telecommunications satellite, put it in orbit

SpaceX scrapped the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket at the last minute Thursday, calling it off for the second time in three days.

"We called manual abort," tweeted Elon Musk, the private space program's founder. "Better to be paranoid and wrong."

The rocket had been set to head skyward Monday from Florida's Cape Canaveral before that launch was scrubbed. It didn't go off Thursday after exhibiting what Musk -- a storied entrepreneur (thought by some to be the inspiration for Tony Stark, or Iron Man) -- described as "slower than expected thrust ramp."

Falcon 9 was then brought down from the launch pad so it could be inspected.

"Likely a few days before next attempt," read a post on SpaceX's website.

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The mission was to be the latest foray for SpaceX, a company that itself launched in 2002 "to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets," according to its website.

SpaceX so far has made two of its 12 scheduled flights to the International Space Station, beginning in spring 2012 when its Dragon capsule became the first private spacecraft to successfully reach this manned orbiter.

This month's scheduled launch was not related to the space station, however.

Rather, it was to put an SES-8 -- a 7,000-pound telecommunications satellite that will focus on the South Asia and Asia Pacific regions -- into orbit 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers) above the Earth's surface.

"SES-8 will be SpaceX's first launch to a geostationary transfer orbit ... and most challenging mission to date," the company noted.