Monday, October 03, 2011

SpaceX demo flight likely moving to next year

SpaceX's next demonstration flight for NASA, once targeted for launch Nov. 30 from Cape Canaveral, is now planned no earlier than Dec. 19 and could move to next year.

The company cites ongoing technical preparations for the mission, which plans to berth an unmanned Dragon capsule at the International Space Station, and the need for NASA and international partners to confirm launch dates for Russian spacecraft following the loss of a Progress cargo ship in August.

The company has tentatively requested the December launch date from the Eastern Range but the mission's timing looks "more like January," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said last week during a speech in Washington, D.C.

"Our flight is one of many that have to be carefully coordinated, so the ultimate schedule of launches to the ISS is still under consideration," the company said in a statement.

SpaceX launched a Dragon capsule into orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket during its first NASA demonstration flight Dec. 8, 2010.

The second flight, if approved by NASA, would berth a Dragon at the station, setting the stage for the company to begin commercial cargo deliveries under a $1.6 billion contract.

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