Print 11 comment(s) - last by kattanna.. on Jan 18 at 10:21 AM

The launch was originally set for February 7, but SpaceX wants to conduct more tests

SpaceX has announced that it is delaying the launch of its unmanned space capsule to the International Space Station (ISS), which was set to make the journey on February 7.

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, will be the first commercial company in history to dock at the ISS. It plans to send its unmanned Dragon spacecraft, which is SpaceX's reusable spacecraft, to the ISS this year.

SpaceX was originally set on launching its Dragon space capsule on February 7, but the company announced yesterday that the flight will be postponed in order to conduct additional testing.

"In preparation for the upcoming launch, SpaceX continues to conduct extensive testing and analysis," said Kirstin Grantham, SpaceX spokesperson. "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."

The Dragon's voyage to the ISS is a big deal, considering it will be the first made by the private space transport industry. The rendezvous is part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which many commercial spaceflight companies have been interested in joining. SpaceX is expected to deliver food, hardware and supplies to the ISS, and upon successful completion of the missions laid out in its Space Act Agreement with NASA, SpaceX will receive as much as $396 million.

The need for a commercial company to step in and take over the errands to the ISS became crucial after NASA retired its space shuttle program throughout 2011. The retirement of the Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis space shuttles marked the end of NASA's 30-year space shuttle program, and also left American astronauts looking to hitch a ride with the Russians when making runs to the ISS. But depending on Russia was expensive, with costs per seat on a Russian spacecraft expected to rise to $63 million by 2015.

The Dragon capsule, which made its maiden flight in December 2010, will launch atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket once the spacecraft is ready.


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put up or shut up
By hellokeith on 1/17/2012 10:15:58 AM , Rating: -1
Ok, it's time. Private industry needs to put up or shut up. Simple as that. If private industry cannot fill America's space flight needs without loads of grants and subsidies, then the pundits' criticism of NASA's shuttle program were all for naught.

RE: put up or shut up
By WinstonSmith on 1/17/2012 10:31:45 AM , Rating: 1

From "Conclusions":

"Generally, expendable launch vehicles will continue to have a significant economic advantage over reusable vehicles until launch rates increase by well over 100 times."

"In short, according to Musk, the Falcon Heavy will offer approximately twice the performance of the Delta IV Heavy at approximately one third the cost; or, as he helpfully added, six times the value. Determining the actual price of a Delta or Atlas is not an easy proposition, a tactic Musk compared to a rug bazaar in that the price is determined by what the vendor perceives the buyer can pay. At the moment, the buyer is the US government, and it is paying dearly.

Assuming the Falcon Heavy’s numbers are accurate, the pricing and performance figures offered in Musk’s presentation raise a number of very interesting and, no doubt to some, uncomfortable questions. They also have the potential to completely alter the basis of what currently passes for space policy.

First, the uncomfortable questions. Given the fact that the SpaceX Falcon rockets are not based on any radical technological breakthrough that lowered their costs, one has to ask just how bad a deal has the taxpayer been getting from the Atlas V and Delta IV, products of the legacy aerospace establishment? Soon to be deprived of the hyper-expensive Space Shuttle as their own point of comparison, the answer would appear to be much worse than we ever imagined."

RE: put up or shut up
By danjw1 on 1/17/2012 10:42:32 AM , Rating: 2
This is silly. SpaceX has a great record. Its not like they are going to run up costs on us. SpaceX charges a set price for its flights, none of this military contract nonsense of delays adding to tax payers costs. They feel it needs a little more work. They had a successful first flight for the dragon, give them a little extra time if they need it.

The space shuttle had to go, it cost >$1 billion a launch. That is crazy. This isn't Northrup, Lockheed or Boeing. They will slip a month or two and then, hopefully, have a successful launch, flight and docking.

RE: put up or shut up
By geddarkstorm on 1/17/2012 11:45:43 AM , Rating: 2
I'd much rather have a working robotic capsule than one that malfunctions and smashes through the ISS, or gets stuck in orbit and falls back down like Phobos-Grunt, or doesn't make it to the second rocket stage and crashes like that Progress, or explodes on the launch pad or soon after launch like several Taurus and countless rockets throughout the history of space flight.

If they want to take a little extra time (which hurts them, not us) to make sure they've got things right, and to maximize mission success and safety for the astronauts on the ISS... then I'm rooting right behind them. That's called -being responsible-, instead of trying to make a quick buck. Something other companies in other sectors should take note of.

RE: put up or shut up
By Shig on 1/17/2012 2:04:11 PM , Rating: 2
"We will launch when the vehicle is ready."

Who else thinks many of their employees play Blizzard games?

RE: put up or shut up
By JediJeb on 1/17/2012 2:04:27 PM , Rating: 2
Correct. NASA isn't paying them by the day for this project, they are paying them a one time payment upon completion of a successful mission. If SpaceX launches too early and crashes and burns then it will eat into what they could have made, or if they delay too long it will have a similar effect. To maximize profit on this they want to make be best first deployment possible at the soonest possible time, anything else is foolish.

I hate to put it in these terms but it is like comparing buying something like furniture from WalMart versus a showroom. WalMart has a set price that includes profit yet make the product move, while at a showroom they mark the product up as high as possible and sell as soon as the come down to what the buyer will give, which is what NASA has been dealing with for decades now.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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