WASHINGTON – SpaceX had to abort an attempt to dock its Dragon space capsule with the International Space Station Wednesday morning due to a navigation problem.
An incorrect data point that had been entered in the capsule’s computer caused the problem,according to NASA. The docking, which had been due to take place about 6 a.m. ET, was canceled at 3:25 a.m. when the data glitch was discovered. SpaceX will try again Thursday morning.
The Dragon capsule got within a mile of the space station when the docking was called off. The capsule is packed with more than 5,000 pounds of cargo and experiments headed for the six astronauts on board the space station, including two from the US, three from Russia and one from France. It is the tenth supply mission that SpaceX has flown for NASA.
The company, which is run by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, also has a contract with NASA to eventually deliver astronauts to the ISS using the Dragon capsule, but it has yet to launch a manned flight.
There is another rocket launched by Russia which is also underway, carrying supplies to the ISS.
This isn’t the first glitch for SpaceX. On its second supply mission in 2013, the docking was delayed for a day when three thrusters failed to fire the way they were supposed to.
SpaceX has had two major failures in the last two years — a June, 2015 supply mission that exploded minutes after launch, and a rocket that exploded during fueling on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in September.
But it returned to space with a successful satellite launch in January. And the launch of this supply mission on Sunday was flawless, with a successful landing of the rocket’s first stage after the launch. SpaceX plans to reduce the cost of space travel by landing and reusing the lower stage of the rockets it uses to reach orbit.
After the crew unloads the Dragon, the vessel will be packed with trash and other items and return to Earth. It was originally set to splash down in the Pacific Ocean off Baja, California, on March 21.