SpaceX aborts Dragon capsule launch

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket stands ready for launch at complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, FLorida. (John Raoux, AP)

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket stands ready for launch at complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, FLorida. (John Raoux, AP)

SpaceX aborted its launch of the Dragon capsule toward the International Space Station (ISS) at the last second on Saturday due to a technical issue with one of the rocket’s nine engines.

“The initiation sequence had started but there was a cutoff,” said NASA commentator George Diller. A SpaceX spokesperson said engineers would look into the causes, and the launch would not take place on Saturday.

“The computer checks all of the engine elemetry,” said the spokesman on SpaceX’s live broadcast of the event. “We detected something was wrong with one of the limits” on one of the rocket’s nine engines.

The next opportunity for launch is at 3:44 am on Tuesday, May 22, according to Nasa.

The launch will mark the first-of-its kind attempt to send a privately built spacecraft to the research outpost, where it plans to do a fly-under followed by a berthing in the following days.

Capacity
SpaceX is the first of several US competitors to try sending its own cargo-bearing spacecraft to the ISS with the goal of restoring US access to space for human travelers by 2015.

The company made history with its Dragon launch in December 2010, becoming the first commercial outfit to send a spacecraft into orbit and back.

Until now, only the space agencies of Russia, Japan and Europe have been able to send supply ships to the ISS.

The US had that capacity too, with its iconic space shuttle that long served as part astronaut bus, part delivery truck for the lab.

But the 30-year shuttle program ended for good in 2011, leaving Russia as the sole taxi for astronauts to the ISS until private industry could come up with a replacement.

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