With one minute left on the countdown, SpaceX scrubbed its flight to the International Space Station this morning because of rocket trouble.
Elon Musk, CEO of the private space flight company that is contracted by NASA, tweeted that the next attempt for the history-making mission will be Friday at 5 a.m.
Need to investigate the upper stage Z actuator. Was behaving strangely. Next launch attempt on Friday at 5am.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 6, 2015
This SpaceX launch is particularly special from the rest because the company will attempt to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on an ocean platform, a tricky maneuver that has a 50 percent chance of succeeding.
Drone spaceport ship heads to its hold position in the Atlantic to prepare for a rocket landing pic.twitter.com/kXYHGVKTfE— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 5, 2015
Once the Falcon 9 rocket launches from Cape Canaveral, it will be headed to the International Space Station with 5,000 pounds of goodies and critical supplies for the astronauts who will be receiving their belated Christmas packages from family and friends back on Earth.
This will be the fifth launch to the space station for the private company that is filling in the gap for NASA with cargo deliveries that were slowed down when the Space Shuttle quit flying.
SpaceX also is in the running, along with Boeing, to get U.S. astronauts off the Russian Soyuz and back on a U.S.-built spacecraft. NASA would like both companies to meet a 2017 deadline, when the current transportation contract with Russia expires.
The Falcon 9 first stage landing will be a nail-bite: It's 14 stories tall and will be hurtling into space then back down to Earth attempting a pinpoint landing on a floating platform. This certainly won’t be easy but SpaceX needs to demonstrate its capability and the reusability of its rockets, and this is a spectacular way to do it.
This experiment is important to SpaceX but the cargo is more important to NASA. Last year’s failure of Orbital’s Antares Cygnus, which was carrying critical cargo to the Space Station, has increased the need for the cargo Space X is now delivering.
The cargo includes critical materials for science and research plus replacement parts for the Space Station toilet, along with personal items and fresh food for the astronauts.
When Dragon returns to Earth it will bring back experiments, and trash. No curbside trash pickup in orbit!