HAWTHORNE (CBSLA.com/AP) — SpaceX will have a to wait until Saturday to try and make space history again.
The Hawthorne-based space exploration company was planning to launch a recycled cargo ship to the International Space Station for the first time.
But a lightning strike within 11 miles of the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida forced mission controllers to cancel the liftoff scheduled for 2:55 p.m. Pacific time.
Scientist will try again at 2:07 p.m. Saturday. But more storms are expected.
According to SpaceX, the mission, dubbed CRS-11, will carry nearly 6,000 pounds of supplies and payloads. Among the cargo is a collection of 40 rodents being sent into space as part of a UCLA-led test of an experimental bone-building drug that could lead to a treatment for osteoporosis.
SpaceX has already revolutionized the spaceflight industry by recovering the first stage of its Falcon 9 rockets multiple times for reuse. The company successfully reused one of them earlier this year. In March, SpaceX made history when it launched its first recycled rocket, the Falcon 9, hoisting a broadcast satellite. It was the first time SpaceX flew a booster that had already soared before on an orbital mission.
Saturday’s scheduled launch will mark the first time SpaceX has reused one of its Dragon spacecraft, which previously traveled to the International Space Station in 2014.
“This whole notion of reuse is something that’s very, very important to the entire space industry,” NASA’s space station program manager Kirk Shireman said at a news conference Wednesday.
While the concept is not new — the space shuttles, for instance, flew multiple times in orbit — it’s important for saving money as well as technical reasons, he noted.
SpaceX and NASA are also discussing the possibility of flying a reused booster on an upcoming delivery mission.
Koenigsmann told reporters more and more reused capsules will carry cargo to the space station, each possibly flying three times.
Dragon capsules are being developed to carry astronauts to the space station as early as next year; it’s too soon to say whether those will be recycled as well, he said.
Wednesday marked the fifth anniversary of the return of the first Dragon capsule to visit the space station. This will be the 12th Dragon visit overall and the 11th under NASA contract. The Dragon is the only unmanned supply ship that returns to Earth; the others are filled with trash and burn up on re-entry.
Two of the space station’s five crew members are scheduled to head back to Earth on Friday. After five and a half months in orbit, Russian Oleg Novitskiy and Frenchman Thomas Pesquet will aim to return to Earth in a Russian Soyuz capsule, leaving two Americans and one Russian behind.
Pesquet tweeted his goodbye message.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)