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SpaceX Aborts Historic Launch at Last Second, Prepares To Go Again

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on May 19, 2012 remains on launch pad as engineers check the main engine section.

Photo by BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/GettyImages

Talk about a last-second decision.

On the verge of a historic launch from Cape Canaveral, SpaceX had to shut down the Falcon 9 after detecting higher than normal pressure readings in one of its engines after ignition. The rocket and cargo capsule would have been the first commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station. It would also prove an important step for NASA, which has relied on the Russian Soyuz to ferry supplies and astronauts into space since retiring its space shuttle fleet last year.

SpaceX officials said they identified a faulty valve and will attempt a second launch this week. The Dragon capsule is loaded with food and clothing, and if successful, will begin a $1.6 billion contract for a dozen cargo flights to the station. A $1.6 billion contract for a private space company that can’t get off the ground? We thought it was government agencies that were supposed to be too expensive and ineffective.  

Video produced by Jim Festante.