27 February 2023

Last-minute problem keeps SpaceX rocket grounded

27 February 2023

Last-minute technical trouble has forced SpaceX to call off an attempt to launch four astronauts to the International Space Station for Nasa.

The countdown was halted with just two minutes remaining until lift-off from Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

With just a split second to blast off, there was no time to deal with the problem, which involved the engine ignition system.

SpaceX did not immediately say when it would try again. The next attempt could come as early as Tuesday, although poor weather is forecast.

Strapped into the capsule atop the Falcon rocket were two Nasa astronauts, one Russian cosmonaut and one astronaut from the United Arab Emirates.

When informed by SpaceX that the fuel would start to be drained from the rocket, commander Stephen Bowen replied: “We’ll be sitting here waiting.”

The measure was expected to take nearly an hour.

Commander Bowen and his crew – including the first astronaut from the United Arab Emirates assigned to a months-long mission, Sultan al-Neyadi – will replace another SpaceX crew that flew to the space station in October.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox