Historic SpaceX launch scrubbed due to technical failure

By Erin Clingenpeel

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) -- Private spaceflight company SpaceX on Tuesday called off its scheduled rocket launch in Florida at the last moment due to a technical failure, further delaying a much-awaited test to land a rocket on a landing platform in the ocean.

The launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will resupply the International Space Station (ISS) using the Dragon spacecraft, marking SpaceX's fifth mission in conjunction with NASA. But the commercial mission will also mark SpaceX's first attempt to land a rocket - Falcon 9 - on a floating landing platform in the ocean.

"During the terminal count, engineers observed drift on one of the two thrust vector actuators on the second stage that would likely have caused an automatic abort. Engineers called a hold in order to take a closer look," a SpaceX spokesman said after the attempt was scrubbed just 81 seconds before launch. He said the company would now attempt to launch the rocket on Friday at 5:09 a.m. ET.

Traditional rockets have always either burned up upon reentry into the atmosphere or crashed into the ocean, never to be used again; but SpaceX's new project would create a reusable rocket. "[It would] substantially reduce the cost of space access," and would likely innovate space travel in many ways, SpaceX explains on its website.

SpaceX admits that the upcoming test will have a low chance of success - less than 50 percent - but also states that, "Given what we know today, we believe it's quite likely that with one of these flights, we will not only be able to land a Falcon 9 first-stage, but also re-fly."

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