SpaceX Delays Dragon's First Launch to ISS
January 17, 2012 9:36 AM
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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
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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RE: put up or shut up
1/17/2012 11:45:43 AM
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
1/17/2012 2:04:11 PM
"We will launch when the vehicle
Who else thinks many of their employees play Blizzard games?
RE: put up or shut up
1/17/2012 2:04:27 PM
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.
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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