CAPE CANAVERAL (Reuters) - The launch of a privately owned Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was delayed on Saturday when a computer detected a possible problem with one of the rocket’s engines, a Space Exploration Technologies official said.
Preparations for the company’s trial cargo run to the International Space Station proceeded smoothly until 4:55 am EDT (0855 GMT) when an onboard computer aborted the launch.
“Liftoff ... we’ve had a cutoff. Liftoff did not occur,” said NASA launch commentator George Diller, caught off guard by the sudden, last-minute turn of events.
A computer monitoring the rocket’s nine engines detected a climbing pressure reading in one engine’s chambers and halted the launch 0.5 seconds before liftoff, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell told reporters.
“Just like a pilot at the end of a runway revs the engines and looks at the gauges. We were revving the engines, we were looking at the gauges and we decided not to fly,” Shotwell said, adding that the problem was unlikely to be a sensor issue.