April 25, 2012
SpaceX Dragon Capsule To Launch May 7
Lee Rannals for RedOrbit.com
SpaceX decided that it needed more time to test hardware and review data before it would go on with testing its Dragon capsule.
The originally planned April 30 launch would have seen the spacecraft make its way to the International Space Station for the first time to dock with the orbiting space port. Those plans will now have to wait until the capsule is launched May 7.
“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.
The company announced earlier on Tuesday that the delay would be until May 3rd, but NASA later determined that the launch would ensue the following Monday.
"We appreciate that SpaceX is taking the necessary time to help ensure the success of this historic flight," NASA said in the press release. "We will continue to work with SpaceX in preparing for the May 7 launch to the International Space Station."
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.
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.
Mike Horkachuck, NASA's project executive for SpaceX, said the Dragon capsule launch is almost like the "lead-up" of the Apollo mission.
"You had Mercury then you had Gemini and eventually you had Apollo," Horkachuck said in a press release. "This would be similar in the sense that, we're not going to the moon or anything as spectacular as that, but we are in the beginnings of commercializing space."