SpaceX launch to space station scrubbed

Dragon capsule to deliver 5,000 pounds of supplies to ISS


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo capsule launch was scrubbed on Monday due to a helium leak.

The first stage helium leak was reported in the Falcon 9. The next launch window opportunity is Friday at 3:25 p.m.

Loss of the backup computer on Friday raised concerns that if the primary computer failed, NASA could lose the ability to control some key systems outside the station, including solar arrays, radiators, the cooling system and a rail cart.

But engineers determined those systems could be configured safely for the unpiloted Dragon and its nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies to arrive before a spacewalk to replace the failed component, planned for April 22.

The Dragon is carrying some important spare parts, including a new spacewalking suit, along with experiments and food, and station cupboards need to be restocked before mid-June, Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported.

"There's a certain amount of urgency to go ahead and get these vehicles on ISS as soon as we safely can do that," said Mike Suffredini, NASA's ISS program manager.

In addition to the Dragon's mission -- the third under a $1.6 billion NASA resupply contract -- the launch will be watched closely for SpaceX's attempt to steer the Falcon 9 rocket booster to a gentle splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean for recovery by a ship.

It's the company's next step toward developing a booster that can return to a landing site and fly again, something that could dramatically lower launch costs.