SpaceX’s mission to send NASA astronauts to the International Space Station was canceled at the last minute

(CNN) SpaceX and NASA have suspended astronaut launches to the International Space Station after a problem was detected with the rocket’s ground system.

With about two minutes left on the countdown clock, the launch was aborted by a problem with the TEA-TEB ignition fluid, which is used to ignite the SpaceX Falcon 9’s rocket engines during liftoff.

In comments on Monday’s webcast, Kate Tice, a SpaceX systems engineer, said the decision to abort the launch was made “out of an abundance of caution.”

Four astronauts strapped into their Crew Dragon capsule atop the rocket hours before launch wait for the rocket to exhaust its fuel before exiting the spacecraft.

The next chance to start is Tuesday, February 28 at 1:22pm ET, although it’s still unclear whether the TEA-TEB issue will be resolved in time. Officials are watching for some adverse weather conditions that could affect that launch mission, Steve Stich, program manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew program, said at a news conference Saturday.

Additional back-up launch opportunities will be available starting March 2, Stich said.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule were scheduled to lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 1:45 a.m. Monday. But with two and a half minutes left, the clock was stopped by engineers monitoring the ground systems.

The mission is expected to mark SpaceX’s seventh astronaut flight on behalf of NASA since 2020.

The Crew-6 team is about to start capsule NASA astronauts include Stephen Bowen, a veteran of three space shuttle missions, first-timer Warren Hoberg, as well as Sultan Alnyadi, the second astronaut from the United Arab Emirates, and Russian cosmonaut Andrey Fedayev.

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Once Bowen, Hoburg, Fedyaev and Alneyadi board the ISS, they will take over operations from SpaceX Crew-5 astronauts. It arrived at the space station in October 2022.

They will spend up to six months in the orbiting lab, conducting science experiments and maintaining the two-decade-old station.

The mission comes as astronauts currently aboard the ISS face a unique transportation problem.

In December, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft used to transport two astronauts and a NASA astronaut to the space station developed a coolant leak. After the capsule was deemed unsafe for returning astronauts, Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, It launched a replacement vehicle on February 23. It’s the ISS on Saturday.

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