Rocket leak delays SpaceX resupply mission launch

The earliest Dragon cargo craft can launch will be Friday, NASA says

A SpaceX cargo mission launch that had been scheduled for Monday afternoon has been scrubbed because of a helium leak on a rocket.

NASA announced that the SpaceX mission, which is set to ferry supplies, scientific experiments and even a pair of legs for the humanoid robot working on the International Space Station, has been delayed.

The space agency blamed the scrubbed mission on a helium leak in the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The earliest that the Dragon cargo spacecraft can lift off now would be Friday at 3:25 p.m. ET if the issue can be resolved.

The Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon spacecraft atop it are still on the launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The Dragon cargo craft is loaded with about 5,000 pounds of equipment bound for the space station and its crew of six astronauts. When it launches, it will be third commercial resupply mission to the orbital laboratory for SpaceX.

While it was the problem with the Falcon 9 rocket that delayed today's launch, there also is a problem on the space station.

The space agency reported that a backup computer command relay box, called the multiplexer/demultiplexer, stopped working on Friday. The glitch in the box, which sits on the space station's outside truss, was first spotted during its routine health check.

The computer system serves to relay commands to the space station's external cooling system, its truss systems and the system that orients the station's solar power generating arrays.

NASA had determined that the station's computing systems have enough redundancy to allow the SpaceX mission to launch without problem.

The space agency is planning a spacewalk for two of the astronauts onboard the station to fix the computing box before the end of the month. A spare is housed on the station.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft are lifted into launch position at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (Video: SpaceX)

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at  @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is

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