SpaceX won't launch a pair of small communications satellites during its next demonstration flight for NASA, which is targeted for launch Feb. 7 from Cape Canaveral.
The company now plans to launch the prototype Orbcomm satellites as a secondary payload one mission later, during the first commercial delivery of cargo to the International Space Station, the companies announced in a joint Dec. 28 press release.
NASA had been reviewing plans to deploy the Orbcomm payloads on the next flight to ensure they wouldn't interfere with the Dragon capsule's first visit to the station.
The press release says the revised launch plan reduces risk for Orbcomm and allows SpaceX to focus on its upcoming demonstration under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program.
"SpaceX will fully verify the mission performance on the COTS mission and focus on the successful berthing of the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station," the release says.
In total, SpaceX plans to launch a constellation of 18 Orbcomm OG2 satellites by 2014 on its Falcon 9 rocket.