SpaceX delays rocket launch from NASA moon pad

Next launch could be as early as Sunday morning

A Space X Falcon9 rocket is readied for launch Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Saturday morning's planned launch will be SpaceX's first from Florida since a rocket explosion at another pad last summer. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Last-minute rocket trouble forced SpaceX on Saturday to delay its inaugural launch from NASA’s historic moon pad.

This photo provided by NASA shows a Space X Falcon9 rocket on the launch pad, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. SpaceX is launching space station supplies from the exact spot where Americans flew to the moon almost a half-century ago. The pad was last used in 2011 for NASA’s final shuttle flight. This is SpaceX’s first Florida launch since last summer’s rocket explosion. (NASA via AP)
This photo provided by NASA shows a Space X Falcon9 rocket on the launch pad, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (NASA via AP)

SpaceX halted the countdown with just 13 seconds remaining. The problem with the second-stage thrust control actually cropped up several minutes earlier. With just a single second to get the Falcon rocket airborne, flight controllers could not resolve the issue in time.

The next launch attempt — provided everything can be fixed quickly — would be Sunday morning.

The unmanned Falcon rocket remains at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, waiting to soar on a space station delivery mission. It’s the same pad where Americans flew to the moon almost a half-century ago.

Thousands of guests had jammed the space center to witness the comeback of 39A, last used in 2011 for the last space shuttle flight. “Hold, hold, hold!” a launch controller urged over the radio loops, to everyone’s disappointment.

“Standing down to take a closer look at positioning of the second stage engine nozzle,” SpaceX said later via Twitter.

This will be SpaceX’s first Florida launch since a rocket explosion last summer.

The Sept. 1 accident occurred during prelaunch testing at a neighboring pad. SpaceX turned to Launch Complex 39A — which it leases from NASA — to resume flights. The company hopes to launch astronauts from 39A next year.

Russia, meanwhile, plans to launch a supply ship to the International Space Station on Wednesday. If the SpaceX mission doesn’t get going soon, it would likely have to get in line behind the Russian delivery.

A Space X Falcon9 rocket is readied for launch Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, at Launch Complex 39A  at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Saturday morning's planned launch will be SpaceX's first from Florida since a rocket explosion at another pad last summer. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
A Space X Falcon9 rocket is readied for launch Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Saturday morning’s planned launch will be SpaceX’s first from Florida since a rocket explosion at another pad last summer. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

___

Online:

SpaceX: http://www.spacex.com/

NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/