CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA—SpaceX called off its planned flight to the International Space Station on Tuesday because of rocket trouble.
The unmanned Falcon rocket was supposed to blast off before sunrise. But the countdown was halted with just over a minute remaining. The soonest SpaceX can try again is Friday morning, provided it can fix the problem by then.
Officials said the problem was with motors needed for second-stage rocket thrust steering. If controllers had not aborted the launch, computers would have done so closer to flight time, NASA launch commentator George Diller said.
Four boys from McGowan Park Elementary School in Kamloops, B.C., had won a contest to have their experiment join 17 other student projects from across North American on a trip to the orbiting station.
But the amateur experiments — along with a payload of supplies destined for the space station — were destroyed on Oct. 28 when a NASA-contracted rocket exploded in a spectacular fireball in eastern Virginia.
If and when the Kamloops students’ experiment gets to the station, it will examine how the zero-gravity environment of space affects the growth of crystals.
The students prepared silicon tubes containing solutions that, when mixed, cause crystals to form. On the space station, astronauts would remove small clips keeping the solutions apart. When the tubes returned, the students would analyze the crystals and compare them to crystals grown on Earth.
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