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SpaceX launch aborted seconds before liftoff

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.

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SpaceX rocket Falcon 9 sits on Pad 40 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Titusville, Florida. (Roberto Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

More from GlobalPost: Space X launch to International Space Station delayed

SpaceX was profiled in the LA Times on May 15, with the paper running an interactive graphic on SpaceX's planned mission.

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."

More from GlobalPost: James Cameron and Google executives invest in space exploration project

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business/companies/120519/spacex-falcon-9-rocket-international-space-station-cape-canaveral