The launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket — the first attempt by private sector to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station — was aborted in the final seconds before liftoff from Cape Canaveral early on Saturday.
According to the Associated Press, the engine ignition sequence for the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the unmanned Dragon spacecraft, fired at the three-second mark, but the onboard computers automatically shut down.
Instead of blasting off on a delivery mission to the ISS, the rocket stayed on its launch pad in a cloud of engine exhaust, the AP wrote.
Sensors on board Space Exploration Technologies Corp.'s Falcon 9 rocket detected unexpectedly high pressure in one of nine engines, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"We are scrubbed for today," National Geographic quoted a SpaceX official as saying during a live online broadcast of the launch. "We won't be planning to launch again this morning. We only had a one-second window, and we've obviously missed that."
Billionaire rocket designer Elon Musk attributed the problem to slightly high combustion chamber pressure on engine No. 5, tweeting: "Will adjust limits for countdown in a few days."
SpaceX was the first launch attempt by the several private US companies in the running to win a contract delivering cargo, and eventually astronauts, to the space station for NASA, the AP wrote.
Only four governments — the United States, Russia, Europe and Japan — have made the trip to date.
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The next window for launch was May 22 at 3:44 a.m. EDT, the Hawthorne company said.
Robert Pearlman, editor of the space-history and artifacts website collectSPACE.com., called the Dragon test mission a potentially historic milestone for the future of space flight.
"It could set the stage for not just a series of cargo deliveries," he said, "but for American astronaut deliveries to the space station, as well as eventually establish a commercial space flight industry here in the United States outside of just satellite launches."
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