NASA-SpaceX rocket launch canceled by lightning

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket (bottom) and Dragon space capsule (top) remain poised on the LC-39A launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on Thursday -- a date it was supposed to depart for the International Space Station. Inclement weather scrubbed the launch at approximately T-minus 25 minutes. Photo courtesy SpaceX

June 2¬†(UPI) — A SpaceX rocket set to launch at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday afternoon was scrubbed because of¬†thunderstorms in the area — a condition that automatically forces mission controllers to abort.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo capsule were set to blast off at 5:55 p.m. EDT. However, the launch was called off — with just 25 minutes to go — after a lightning strike was spotted about 10 miles away.

Earlier Thursday, NASA estimated there was a 70 percent chance the spacecrafts would launch, but acknowledged the possibility of threatening weather.

When it does launch, the CRS-11 mission will resupply the International Space Station — SpaceX’s 11th such effort. It also will mark the first time the company has reused a cargo spacecraft. The Dragon capsule flew to the ISS three years ago.

The Dragon capsule is packed with 6,000 pounds of supplies, equipment and scientific experiments that will be received by U.S. astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer using the International Space Station’s robotic arm.

Materials essential to more than 250 different science experiments are packed neatly into the cargo ship, including seeds for the Seedling Growth-3 experiment — which will be planted in the European Modular Cultivation System and subjected to various levels of light and gravity.

Hardware for NASA’s Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments also is included in the cargo. The ACME hardware will enable the study of microgravity flames and bolster scientists’ understanding of combustion under a variety of conditions.

“Four of ACME’s experiments are designed to improve our understanding of flame behavior for practical use on Earth,” Dennis Stocker, ACME project scientist at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, said in a news release. “The other experiment is intended to help us understand and improve spacecraft fire safety.”

NASA and SpaceX will try again Saturday at 5:07 p.m. EDT, although forecasters say similar weather could again loom over the launch.

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