SpaceX postpones rocket launch due to engine glitch

MIAMI: An unmanned SpaceX spaceship carrying food and equipment to the astronauts living at the International Space Station is poised to blast off from a historic Nasa launch pad on Sunday. SpaceX scrubbed 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. The Dragon cargo ship was scheduled for 10:01 am (1501 GMT) from Cape Canaveral’s launchpad 39A, which was built and used for the US space agency’s pioneering missions to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s.
It was also the blastoff point for sending American space shuttles into orbit, until the shuttle programme came to an end in 2011.
SpaceX, headed by billionaire Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, negotiated a lease with Nasa for the launchpad in 2013, beating out its competitor Blue Origin, which is headed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
By the time the launch pad is completely outfitted for sending astronauts to space in 2018, the company will have spent over $100 million to adapt it for modern day spaceflights, said SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell.
SpaceX has endured two costly disasters in the past two years — a launchpad blast that destroyed a rocket and its satellite payload in September, and a June 2015 explosion after liftoff that obliterated a Dragon cargo ship packed with goods bound for the space station.
The has already made one successful return to flight in January of this year, from Vandenberg Air Force base in California.
The launch is meant to carry more than 5,000 pounds (2,267 kilogrammes) of gear into orbit. If delayed, another opportunity opens up on Sunday morning. Following the launch, SpaceX plans to try landing the booster on solid ground at a different part of Cape Canaveral. If successful, the upright touchdown of the Falcon 9’s first stage would mark the third time SpaceX has managed to stick a landing on solid ground. Other such landings have taken place on floating ocean platforms, as the company perfects its techniques of powering costly rocket parts back to land instead of jettisoning them in the ocean after a single use. The Dragon will spend two days in orbit before arriving at the space station early on Monday.
The cargo resupply mission, known as CRS-10, is the 10th of up to 20 planned trips to the space station as part of a contract between SpaceX and Nasa. — Reuters