SpaceX announced today that it will be delaying its mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
“We believe that there are a few areas that will benefit from additional work and will optimize the safety and success of this mission. We are now working with NASA to establish a new target launch date, but note that we will continue to test and review data. We will launch when the vehicle is ready,” SpaceX said in a statement issued this afternoon.
The unmanned cargo resupply flight was originally slated to lift off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Station on February 7. It will be the company’s second test flight in NASA’s commercial cargo program. SpaceX successfully completed the first test flight in December, 2010 when it placed its Dragon capsule in orbit and later recovered it in the pacific ocean – the first non-government entity to do so.
The upcoming mission will have the Dragon spacecraft approach the ISS and perform communication and maneuvering tests from a safe distance. When NASA managers are satisfied the spacecraft is functioning normally it will approach within reach of the station’s robotic arm. The arm will then berth the capsule to the station and cargo will be unloaded by station astronauts. Dragon will be taking items back to Earth from the station, replacing a key function that only Space Shuttles could do in the past.
A new launch date has not yet been set.