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First countdown at new Russian cosmodrome aborted in final minutes

The Soyuz-2.1a rocket stands on its launch pad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. Credit: Roscosmos
The Soyuz-2.1a rocket stands on its launch pad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. Credit: Roscosmos

A Soyuz rocket counted down to launch from Russia’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome early Wednesday, but computers aborted the flight about 90 seconds before liftoff, the Russian space agency said.

The historic liftoff has been rescheduled for the same time Thursday — 11:01 a.m. local time at the Siberian spaceport, or 0201 GMT (10:01 p.m. EDT Wednesday), Roscosmos said in a brief statement.

Engineers are investigating the cause of the automatic abort, Roscosmos said. The countdown stopped after computers took control of the launch procedures in the final few minutes before liftoff, when the Soyuz rocket’s fuel tanks were already filled with kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants.

The Soyuz-2.1a rocket and its Volga upper stage will place three civilian research satellites into a polar orbit.

The flight marks the first launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a $3 billion facility in Russia’s Amur region near the Chinese border. Construction at the site in Russia’s Far East began in 2011 as a priority project of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who attended Wednesday’s launch attempt.

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First countdown at new Russian cosmodrome aborted in final minutes

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