Due to technical trouble, SpaceX has once again called off a rocket launch that was supposed to bring much needed supplies to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The goods inside the rocket, which include groceries and familial presents for the holidays, had originally been scheduled to be delivered before Christmas.
The countdown to the rocket’s launch was halted roughly one minute before takeoff, when the steering mechanism within the craft malfunctioned. SpaceX chief Elon Musk said it was “behaving strangely” on Twitter. The team anticipates a re-launch by the morning of Friday, January 9th. However, this is dependent on whether or not they can fix the steering problems within the unmanned Falcon rocket by then.
The Dragon capsule contains over 5,000 pounds of food, science experiments, and equipment for upcoming spacewalks, in addition to the late holiday surprises for the six astronauts currently aboard the station. When the delay was announced, commander Butch Wilmore and the astronaut-team were watching the rocket takeoff live via a video feed from Mission Control in Houston.
“Certainly, there’s a little bit of disappointment because it had fresh fruit and those types of things that we’re all interested in getting,” Wilmore said in a statement to The Associated Press after the postponement. “But they’ll get off the ground here in a couple of days and it will all be great.”
Previously, the shipment of the items took an unexpected turn when SpaceX’s rocket was destroyed in an explosion a few months ago. Since then, the company has tried to be as careful as possible to setup the re-launch, though problems are still arising.
SpaceX coordinators said one of the two motors required for rocket thrust steering during the second stage was moving when it should not have been. Officials reported that if controllers had not aborted the launch when they did, the computers would have halted the release before flight time concluded.
Upon a successful re-launch, the company will fly the first-stage booster rocket to a platform within the Atlantic. This is the first time something of the sort has ever been attempted, as boosters are generally discarded at sea following a successful launch.