SpaceX rocket launch, and landing test, reset for Saturday

The Falcon 9 rocket, to be launched by SpaceX on a cargo resupply service mission to the International Space Station, sits on launch pad 40 after a scrubbed launch attempt at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida January 6, 2015. REUTERS/Scott Audette

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla (Reuters) - Space Exploration Technologies will try again Saturday to launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a cargo capsule for the International Space Station, then attempt to land the discarded booster on a platform in the ocean, officials said on Wednesday. SpaceX, as the privately owned company is known, had planned to launch the rocket on Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. But less than two minutes before liftoff, a computer detected a problem in the system that steers the rocket’s upper-stage engine. That motor positions the Dragon cargo ship into the right orbit to rendezvous and dock with the station, a $100 billion research laboratory that flies about 260 miles (418 km) above Earth. One of two actuators in the upper-stage motor was “behaving strangely,” SpaceX's founder and chief executive, Elon Musk, wrote in a post on Twitter after the launch scrub.Liftoff was retargeted for Friday, but on Wednesday SpaceX determined that it needed another day to prepare, NASA said in a statement. SpaceX declined to provide any more details. NASA, which is paying SpaceX $1.6 billion for 12 station resupply runs, said launch is now scheduled for 4:47 a.m. (0947 GMT) on Saturday. "They need more time to work the issue that caused the scrub," NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said. Once the Falcon rocket’s first-stage separates from the upper booster about 2.5 minutes after launch, it will attempt an unprecedented series of maneuvers to land itself on a platform floating about 200 miles off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, located north of the launch site. SpaceX has been developing technology to land its rockets so they can be refurbished and resold, slashing launch costs.Having a booster touch down on an ocean platform is a steppingstone toward flying one back to a landing pad on the ground. (Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Leslie Adler)