An unmanned mission to send the first commercial spacecraft to the International Space Station had to be aborted minutes before liftoff yesterday after a computer detected an engine problem.
The Falcon 9 rocket of California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp, carrying the Dragon capsule, attempted to lift off at 4:55 am from Cape Canaveral, Florida but had to be rescheduled for 22 May.
Space X, the closely held company led by billionaire Elon Musk had plans to dock its vehicle with the station. After the US retired its own shuttle fleet last year, it relies on other countries for rides to space, and wants the private sector to take over the job of ferrying supplies to and from the lab.
''A failure is not going to be a failure of the commercial space industry,'' Gwynne Shotwell, president of Space X, said yesterday during a pre-launch press conference.
The engines after momentarily igniting, rumbled briefly before falling silent during the attempt today. According to an email from Space X spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham the computer aborted the launch automatically after detection of a pressure build-up in engine five.
NASA, which had worked on the launch with SpaceX streamed the pre-dawn liftoff live on its website which came after almost three years of delays. It also featured an overhauled capsule that was ''fundamentally a new spacecraft,'' according to Shotwell.