Lightning Delays First Launch of SpaceX's Pre-Flown Dragon Space Capsule

Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for 5:07 p.m. EDT (2:37 a.m. Sunday India time) from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Even worse, it was supposed to carry 6,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station, leaving researchers residing in the orbital platform disappointed.

SpaceX will also be attempting to recover the first stage of Falcon 9 at its LZ-1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base.

If it launches Saturday, the Dragon will rendezvous with the space station Monday, and the station crew will grapple it with the research lab's robotic arm around 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) for berthing to the Harmony module.

The Dragon capsule will spend approximately one month attached to the space station, remaining until early July.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo capsule are ready and waiting to launch. The spacecraft has undergone significant refurbishment, and has a new heat shield.

On this trip, the Dragon will deliver almost 6,000 pounds of supplies - everything from food for the crew to fruit flies and rodents that will be used in various experiments.

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This particular Dragon has flown to the ISS once before, back in September 2014.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has long touted the importance and benefits of reusing hardware to slash launch and space travel prices. It will burn up harmlessly in the Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. However, the mission is a significant milestone for the commercial space industry. Right now, the company has a backup launch attempt scheduled for Saturday at 5:07PM ET.

"The majority of this Dragon has been in space before", he said during a prelaunch press conference Wednesday afternoon. The Dragon spacecraft will be packed full of supplies and equipment for the ISS crew as usual, but what makes this mission unique is that this Dragon has been to ISS before. Sitting atop it was a Dragon spacecraft (CRS-4) with more than two tons of supplies and gear.

Whenever this flight does get off the ground, it'll mark the 100th launch from NASA's historic pad at LC-39A, which was used to launch the first astronauts to the Moon.

A U.S. Air Force report shows a 70 percent chance of favorable weather for the launch tonight.

  • Toni Ryan