SpaceX’s Dragon space failed to dock with the International Space Station Wednesday morning after an error was detected in the GPS software, causing the unmanned space capsule to abort the attempt. NASA reports that the Dragon capsule, carrying 5,500 pounds of cargo and experiments, was three-quarters of a mile away from the space station at around 3:25 am ET before the ship automatically aborted the mission due to the software error. SpaceX will reattempt to dock on Thursday morning.
Today’s attempt to deliver cargo to the space station is SpaceX’s tenth supply mission the Elon Musk-backed space company has flown for NASA. The Dragon capsule had been en route to the space station for the past two days, after separating from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket that launched from historic Apollo-era launch pad 39A from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Sunday.
The cargo capsule was scheduled to rendezvous with six astronauts onboard the space station at 6 am ET today. If successful, astronauts Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency would have locked hatches with the SpaceX capsule using an onboard robotic arm. However, the mission was waved off after the ship received the GPS-related error.
“It did exactly what it was designed to do, breaking out of a rendezvous approach when it saw an incorrect value,” said NASA TV commentator Rob Navias, according to NPR.
“This is an easily correctable issue,” he explained during a live NASA TV stream of the docking attempt. “Dragon itself is in excellent shape.”
SpaceX confirmed that the Dragon capsule was in good health and will attempt to make another rendezvous with the space station on Thursday. The new Thursday schedule means SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will arrive at the International Space Station just one day before a Russian resupply rocket is planned to arrive at the station.