But a thunderstorm veered too close to the launch site, forcing mission controllers to scrub the liftoff attempt with less than three minutes to go in the countdown. "Launch postponed due to lightning from an approaching anvil cloud, " SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote in a Twitter post after the launch delay. [SpaceX's Reusable Rocket Landing Test in Photos]
There is a 50 percent chance of good weather for the Tuesday attempt, NASA officials said.
The Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX holds a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to fly at least 12 unmanned cargo missions to the International Space Station. The company has completed five of those flights; the upcoming liftoff, whenever it occurs, will kick off resupply mission number six.
The rocket landing maneuver is part of SpaceX's internal effort to develop fully and rapidly reusable rocket technology, a key priority for the company and its billionaire founder and CEO, Elon Musk.
Launch postponed due to lightning from an approaching anvil cloud— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) has tried the drone-ship landing once before, during the Jan. 10 launch of the previous Dragon cargo mission. That attempt was nearly successful: The Falcon 9 first stage hit the robotic boat but came down too hard and exploded on its deck.
The rocket stage's stabilizing "hypersonic grid fins" ran out of hydraulic fluid during the Jan. 10 try, Musk said. He promised to fix the issue in time for the next landing attempt.
"At least it [should] explode for a [different] reason, " Musk tweeted on Jan. 16.
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Mike WallMichael was a science writer for the Idaho National Laboratory and has been an intern at Wired.com, The Salinas Californian newspaper, and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. He has also worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Mike on Google+.
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