Technical faults have necessitated SpaceX to abort the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket at the last minute of take-off. The Dragon cargo-bearing ship was scheduled to blast off to the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday Tuesday at 6:20 a.m., but the launch was called off when the spacecraft’s motors failed.
But that is not the end of this much-touted enterprise – SpaceX is set to have another go at the launch on Friday morning – by which time the technical problems will have been resolved. A NASA representative confided that the booster’s upper-stage motor failed to work as anticipated and this made its engineers to abort the launch; but according to him, even if the controllers hadn’t found the problem and cancelled the launch, the computers would have done so.
The Falcon 9 rocket will be carrying a Dragon cargo that weighs over 5,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the ISS. The capsule is filled food and equipment supplies, and it also bears a fruit fly experiment designed for immune system studies, as well as an instrument that must be mounted outside of the ISS to measure clouds and aerosols in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Apart from the fact that delivering this shipment to the ISS was a major goal for SpaceX, flying the spacecraft back to earth and steering it to soft-land on a floating barge in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean was another crucial goal for the California-based space travel company. The successful touchdown of the Falcon 9 rocket at the floating barge would mark a milestone in the efforts of the Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) company to achieve unmanned space trips.
CEO Elon Musk had earlier estimated the rocket’s chances of returning to Earth or touchdown at the floating barge at 50%, but just minutes before the scheduled take-off he took back his words and said he miscalculated the entire situation.
The ISS is a $100 billion outpost flying at about 260 miles off space above Earth’s surface; and SpaceX is the second of two companies used by NASA to transport cargo to the International Space Station. The contract between SpaceX and NASA is said to be worth $3.5 billion.