CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami) – The first private rocket to attempt a rendezvous with the International Space Station will try launching again from Cape Canaveral in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, after a weekend attempt was aborted at literally the last possible second.
The Falcon 9 rocket shut down just as the launch announcer was saying “Liftoff” after a valve in one of the rocket engine chambers failed, causing an automatic shut-down.
The California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, replaced the valve and has pronounced the rocket good to go. It plans to attempt a launch, in a very tiny window, at 3:44 a.m. Tuesday.
SpaceX plans to deliver the Dragon capsule, filled with 1 thousand pounds of supplies, to the space station by Thursday.
Once there, it will undergo a series of practice maneuvers from more than a mile out. Then on Friday, the capsule will fly within reach of the station’s 58-foot robot arm, which will snare it and berth it to the orbiting lab.
The arm will be operated by two of the six space station residents: American Donald Pettit and Andre Kuipers, who is Dutch.
After about a week, the Dragon capsule will be released and the craft will parachute back to Earth, where it is expected to be recovered.
If successful with cargo, SpaceX eventually hopes to win the contract to carry US astronauts to the station. With the end of the shuttle program the US has been left without a launch vehicle of its own, and has been buying launch services from Russia.
However, winning that contract depends on launching and meeting up with the station, making Tuesday’s mission critical for the success of SpaceX.