April 24, 2012
SpaceX Delays NASA Dragon Launch
Lee Rannals for RedOrbit.com
SpaceX announced on Tuesday that its planned Dragon capsule launch on April 30 will be delayed by at least a week.
The company said that it needed more time to test hardware and review data before it would go on with sending the Dragon capsule on its first trip to the International Space Station.
"After reviewing our recent progress, it was clear that we needed more time to finish hardware-in-the-loop testing and properly review and follow up on all data," SpaceX said in a statement.
So far, the company has set a new target date of May 3rd, but that day could still very likely be pushed back.
"While it is still possible that we could launch on May 3rd, it would be wise to add a few more days of margin in case things take longer than expected," the company said. "As a result, our launch is likely to be pushed back by one week, pending coordination with NASA."
SpaceX said that it will be sending out an announcement when a new target window is officially set.
The Dragon spacecraft is a reusable capsule and is currently designed to carry cargo, but could one day be reconfigured to carry up to seven crew members.
Dragon made its first flight in August 2010, during which it orbited the Earth twice and landed back down in the Pacific Ocean.
SpaceX will launch the Dragon on its two-stage Falcon 9 booster rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida once it is rescheduled.
NASA is hoping SpaceX, as well as Orbital Science Corp., will fill the void the space shuttle program left after it was retired last year.
Together, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences hold contracts worth $3.5 billion for cargo delivery services.