ABL Space’s RS1 Booster Suffers Second Abort

RS1 booster on the launch pad. (Credit: ABL Space Systems)

The third time was not a charm for ABL Space System on Monday.

ABL Space’s RS1 booster suffered an abort on Monday as its first stage began to ignite 1.75 seconds before liftoff. It was the company’s third unsuccessful attempt in the past week to launch RS1 on its maiden flight from the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island.

It was the last day in an eight-day launch window for launching the two-stage rocket from the spaceport. ABL Space said the next launch window opens on Dec. 7. The company said the rocket was healthy after the abort.

ABL Space said it scrubbed the first launch attempt on Monday, Nov. 14, due to a leaking valve in the pressurization system. The valve was replaced, and the company tried again three days later. But, RS1 aborted at the last second during the second attempt.

“RS1 aborted terminal count during ignition. The vehicle is healthy, and the team is setting up to offload propellant for today. More information to come on our next opportunity,” the company tweeted.

RS1 is a two-stage booster with a maximum capacity of 1,350 kg to low Earth orbit. The rocket is designed to be transported in shipping containers and launched rapidly with minimal set up. ABL plans to charge $12 million per launch.

Payloads on the first flight are VariSat’s VariSat-1 and VariSat-1B 6U CubeSats. The spacecraft, which are equipped with inter-satellite links, will test a HF marine data communications system.