November 18, 2011
SpaceX May Delay Cargo Resupply Demonstration
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) may have to delay the targeted cargo resupply demonstration mission of the Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, according to government and industry officials.
The first commercial cargo run to the ISS has now slipped from January to as late as April because engineers from one company are still working on spacecraft-guidance software.
The House is also expected to cut NASA funding for the development of privately built and operated systems. The budget cuts could put another hamper on the transition of moving from the space shuttle program to commercial space programs.
Despite SpaceX pushing back its expected ISS delivery, its founder Elon Musk said that compared to NASA's track record, SpaceX has suffered shorter delays and fewer technical problems.
The demonstration mission will see the Dragon spacecraft attempt to rendezvous with the ISS, allowing U.S. crew members to grapple and berth the supply craft using Canadarm2.
The timing of the mission will depend on the outcome of NASA's SpaceX flight software assessments to identify potential hazards.
Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA´s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said NASA will brief its Russian partners on the SpaceX mission strategy before signing off on the flight.
Image Caption: Artist's rendering of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft delivering cargo to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
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