SpaceX aborts rocket launch due to engine glitch
BRUCE WEAVER (AFP)
SpaceX aborted its planned Dragon cargo launch to the International Space Station just seconds before liftoff on Saturday due to a technical issue with the Falcon 9 rocket engine.
"We did abort today," a SpaceX spokesman said, describing the move as having been made "out of an abundance of caution."
Engineers plan to "take a closer look at the position of the second stage engine nozzle," the California-based company said on Twitter.
Standing down to take a closer look at positioning of the second stage engine nozzle. 9:38am ET tomorrow is next earliest launch opportunity— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 18, 2017
The unmanned cargo ship is packed with food, gear and science experiments for the astronauts living in orbit.
The next launch attempt is scheduled for 9:38 am Sunday (1438 GMT).
SpaceX, headed by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, has successfully landed multiple rockets this way, on both land and water, as part of its effort to bring down the cost of space flight by re-using multi-million dollar components instead of jettisoning them in the ocean after launch.
But a string of recent accidents, including the costly and complicated launchpad explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket in September has cost the company significantly, with the Wall Street Journal reporting in January that the incidents have pushed the privately owned company into the red.
September's blast destroyed a $200 million Israeli satellite that Facebook had planned to use to beam high-speed internet to Africa. Another explosion in June 2015 two minutes after liftoff obliterated a Dragon cargo ship packed with goods bound for the astronauts at the International Space Station.
SpaceX returned to the skies in mid-January, successfully landing an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket, its first since the September disaster.
Musk has lofty goals, including colonizing Mars and revolutionizing the launch industry by making rocket components reusable.
Founded in 2002, SpaceX logged 18 successful launches of the Falcon 9 before the 2015 accident.
The company has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to supply the International Space Station using its Dragon space capsule, which is the only cargo ship that can return to the Earth intact.
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