SpaceX called off the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) early Tuesday. The Elon Musk-led company aborted the mission with just one minute left in the countdown at Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA said in a statement that the mission was aborted due to rocket trouble. SpaceX team identified a last minute problem with the actuator drift. It affects motors that control rocket thrust in the second stage.
Next launch scheduled for Friday
Weather forecasters said there was 70% chance of acceptable weather conditions for launch. The next launch opportunity comes on Friday at 5:09 AM EST. The Dragon capsule atop the Falcon 9 rocket has 5,180 pounds of supplies and experimental instruments. Carrying the supplies to the International Space Station was the primary objective of the mission.
But SpaceX was also planning to attempt extraordinary maneuvers to land first stage of the rocket booster on a 300-feet platform in Atlantic Ocean, a couple of hundred miles offshore. No one has ever achieved such a rocket landing. If successful, the maneuvers would allow SpaceX to recover and reuse rockets. It will dramatically reduce the launch costs and save a lot of time. Currently, rockets are discarded after single use.
SpaceX mission has been delayed twice
Landing the 14-story tall Falcon 9 booster on a barge, especially when it was traveling at hypersonic speed. SpaceX has added a set of “X-wing” fins to the rocket to improve its control during descent. SpaceX founder Elon Musk believes there is 50% chance of safe landing. The company has twice landed the rocket booster softly in the Atlantic ocean.
It’s the second time the launch has been delayed. Earlier, the rocket was supposed to lift off on Dec.19. But it was postponed due to a flawed test firing of the rocket engines. Repeated successful testing had paved the way for Tuesday’s launch schedule. Now, the launch has been pushed back until Friday.