Technical trouble has grounded a rocket launch that was set to send a Brighton graduate into space.

Four astronauts, including former Brighton University student Dr Sultan Al Neyadi, were due to launch from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida earlier this morning.

However, the countdown was halted with just two minutes remaining until lift-off due to last-minute technical trouble.

The problem is understood to have involved the rocket’s engine ignition system.

SpaceX did not immediately say when it would try to launch again. The next attempt could come as early as tomorrow, but poor weather is forecast.

The Argus: SpaceX portrait of Dr Sultan Al NeyadiSpaceX portrait of Dr Sultan Al Neyadi (Image: NASA)

Dr Al Neyadi, who will become the first astronaut from the United Arab Emirates, will replace another SpaceX crew that flew to the International Space Station in October.

He will be joined by Russian cosmonaut Andrew Fedyaev, pilot Warren Hoburg and spacecraft commander Stephen Bowen.

The crew are expected to spend 180 days in orbit, returning to Earth sometime in the autumn.

During a recent NASA media briefing, Dr Al Neyadi said he felt “ready and excited for the launch”.

He said: “Just the idea of waking up every morning and having access to a window you can see and scan the whole world in 90 minutes is amazing.”