NASA announced that a scheduled resupply mission to the International Space Station was postponed by its commercial partner SpaceX. The agency confirmed that a technical issue with the Falcon 9 rocket prompted SpaceX to delay the launch of the Dragon spacecraft.
The mission, dubbed as CRS-20, will be the 20th resupply mission of SpaceX to the ISS using the Dragon cargo spacecraft. Like previous resupply missions, the CRS-20 will be part of SpaceX's commitment to its partnership with NASA through its Commercial Resupply Services program.
Details Of CRS-20 Mission
As a resupply mission, CRS-20 will deliver a variety of equipment and scientific experiments to the giant orbiting space station. In total, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will carry over 2,500 kilograms of cargo, which contains the food and other supplies for the current crew members of the ISS.
Aside from important supplies, the mission will also deliver new scientific experiments to the station. According to NASA, some of these include research on water droplet formation and particle foam manufacturing.
Delaying CRS-20 Launch
CRS-20 was supposed to take place on March 2. However, after conducting a standard safety check on Falcon 9, which will serve as the mission's launch vehicle, SpaceX decided to postpone the launch to March 6 at 11:50 pm EST. As confirmed by NASA, SpaceX discovered that a valve on the rocket's second stage engine was not functioning properly.
"During standard preflight inspections, SpaceX identified a valve motor on the second stage engine behaving not as expected and determined the safest and most expedient path to launch is to utilize the next second stage in line that was already at the Cape and ready for flight," NASA stated.
Previous Issue With SpaceX
This isn't the first time that SpaceX had to delay the launch for NASA. Probably the most significant incident is SpaceX had to push back its commercial crew launch service for the agency after a disastrous accident destroyed its spacecraft.
The incident occurred on April 20 last year during a static fire test for the Crew DragonA, which was designed to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS. Unfortunately, a minor leak in the spacecraft's helium line caused it to explode during an unmanned test. Although no one was hurt, the severity of the incident forced SpaceX to delay its commercial crew flight service for NASA.