"For Saturday's launch attempt, the California-based company, owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, canceled its webcast and provided no commentary about the launch countdown, a public service offered even for classified Department of Defense satellite launches. "For the first time since the end of the Cold War, a space launch from Cape Canaveral will not be broadcast to the press and the public," Spaceflightnow.com, which provides live launch coverage, wrote on its website."
Keith's note: This lack of visibility is rather unusual for SpaceX - a company that has gone out of its way to use social media and traditional media - with great success - to get word about its products and services to the widest audience possible. Indeed, just a week or so ago there was a large reception for the Dragon V2 in Washington DC and the news media was all over it. Flash forward. SpaceX explained this absence of a webcast yesterday as being due to the fact that these launches were becoming routine and that the webcasts are no longer needed. This was a little odd given that they had a webcast for the Friday launch attempt 24 hours earlier.
Yes, they are a private company and this is a commercial activity, so they have every right to do this. But that does not mean its the smart thing to do. As for SpaceX falcon launches being "routine" - since when is a rocket launch where the first stage uses landing legs to return to Earth "routine"?
That said, the reaction on the Twitterverse yesterday - albeit from space enthusiasts and space media - was swift and loud. The hashtag "#FalconNein" quickly appeared. One would hope that SpaceX is paying attention and realizes that they are doing something cool - as are other space companies - and that the more visible all of this launch stuff is, the more excitement is generated - and the greater the public appreciation for the reality of space utilization becomes.
People like to watch SpaceX launches - and other launches - because they are cool. Cool sells. And if and when something goes wrong people root for the company to fix the problem so they can see cool things again.
Keith's update: Sunday afternon SpaceX sent an email out to some space news media (but not all space news media): "Today's ORBCOMM launch attempt has been scrubbed to address a potential concern identified during pre-flight checks. The vehicle and payload are in good condition, and engineering teams will take the extra time to ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance prior to flight. The rocket will remain vertical on the launch pad with the next available launch opportunity targeting Tuesday, June 24th."