US space company SpaceX aborted at the last minute the lift-off of its Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule to the International Space Station on Saturday due to technical trouble.
A SpaceX Falcon 9, carrying a Dragon cargo capsule loaded with nearly 5,500 pounds of supplies and equipment bound for the International Space Station (ISS), was supposed to blast off from the US space agency NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Centre for the first time, Xinhua news agency reported.
However, the launch was called off with just 13 seconds left in the countdown, NASA TV showed.
The California-based company will have to wait at least another day to launch from NASA’s historic moonshot pad. The next earliest launch opportunity is on Sunday.
“All systems go, except the movement trace of an upper stage engine steering hydraulic piston was slightly odd. Standing down to investigate,” SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk posted on Twitter a few minutes later.
According to Musk, if this is the only issue, “flight would be fine, but need to make sure that it isn’t symptomatic of a more significant upstream root cause.”
The delay comes after a small leak was spotted in the Falcon 9 upper stage on Friday. A software check was put into the terminal countdown and the leak apparently was within acceptable limits on Saturday.
The launch delay is “not obviously related to the (very tiny) helium leak, but also not out of the question,” Musk tweeted.
This would be SpaceX’s first launch from Florida since a Falcon 9 exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on September 1, 2016. The accident during pre-launch testing heavily damaged that pad. SpaceX turned to the LC-39A.
The historic launch pad at Cape Canaveral is best known as the launch site for the Apollo 11 mission, which sent the first humans to the surface of the moon, as well as numerous space shuttle missions.