SpaceX will have to wait at least another day to launch from NASA’s historic moon pad.
The unmanned Falcon rocket remains at 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, and where the shuttle program ended in 2011.
This will be SpaceX’s first Florida launch since a rocket explosion last summer.
The next launch attempt could come as early as Sunday morning.
The spaceship was supposed to carry food and equipment to the astronauts living at the International Space Station.
The Falcon 9 rocket launch of the Dragon cargo ship was scheduled for 10:01 am (1501 GMT) from Cape Canaveral.
SpaceX, headed by billionaire internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, negotiated a lease with NASA for the launchpad in 2013, beating out its competitor Blue Origin, which is headed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
By the time the launch pad is completely outfitted for sending astronauts to space in 2018, the company will have spent over $100 million to adapt it for modern day spaceflights, said SpaceX chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell.
‘I wouldn’t say we saved a bunch of money here,’ she told reporters, but added that the launchpad’s singular place in American space lore made the price tag worthwhile.
‘My heart is pounding to come out here today,’ she told an outdoor press conference near the launchpad on Friday, recalling how she watched the Apollo 11 mission’s July 1969 lunar landing on television with her father as a child.
‘I can tell you it is an extra special launch tomorrow, for sure. Maybe extra nerve-wracking,’ she added.
SpaceX has endured two costly disasters in the past two years – a launchpad blast that destroyed a rocket and its satellite payload in September, and a June 2015 explosion after liftoff that obliterated a Dragon cargo ship packed with goods bound for the space station.
The Hawthorne, California-based company has already made one successful return to flight in January of this year, from Vandenberg Air Force base in California.
On Friday, SpaceX discovered what Shotwell described as a ‘very small’ helium leak in the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket.
After engineers spent the day narrowing down the cause of the issue, Musk said on Twitter that the countdown to launch would proceed.
‘Looks like we are go for launch,’ he wrote late Friday, adding that the launch could be aborted within a minute of liftoff if signs indicated a problem with the helium in the upper stage of the rocket.
Saturday’s launch was meant to carry more than 5,000 pounds (2,267 kilograms) of gear into orbit.
If delayed, another opportunity opens up Sunday morning.
The weather forecast for both Saturday and Sunday was 70 percent favorable for liftoff, officials said Friday.
Following the launch, SpaceX plans to try landing the booster on solid ground at a different part of Cape Canaveral.
If successful, the upright touchdown of the Falcon 9’s first stage would mark the third time SpaceX has managed to stick a landing on solid ground.
Other such landings have taken place on floating ocean platforms, as the company perfects its techniques of powering costly rocket parts back to land instead of jettisoning them in the ocean after a single use.
The Dragon will spend two days in orbit before arriving at the space station early Monday.
The cargo resupply mission, known as CRS-10, is the 10th of up to 20 planned trips to the space station as part of a contract between SpaceX and NASA.
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