Cape Canaveral, Fla. Last-minute technical trouble forced SpaceX to call off Monday’s attempt to launch four astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA.
The countdown had only two minutes left until liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center. With just one second to detonate, there was no time to deal with the problem, which involved the engine ignition system.
SpaceX did not immediately say when it would try again. The next attempt could be as early as Tuesday, although bad weather was predicted along the east coast in the emergency recovery area.
Tucked into the capsule atop the Falcon rocket were two NASA astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates. They had to wait until all the fuel was out of the rocket – an hour-long process – before ejecting.
Commander Stephen Bowen assured everyone, “We’ll be waiting here.” “We’re all feeling fine.”
Bowen and his crew — including the first astronaut from the United Arab Emirates assigned to the one-month mission, Sultan al-Neyadi — will replace four space station residents who have been there since October.
Officials said the problem involved ground equipment used to load engine ignition fluid. The launch team could not be sure that was fully loaded. A SpaceX engineer compared this vital system to the spark plug of a car.