NASA, SpaceX Delay Unmanned Launch


Image: NASA

NASA and contractor SpaceX announced Thursday this week’s launch of an unmanned supply capsule to the International Space Station will be postponed until January to conduct further testing. NASA said issues during a test of the Falcon rocket engines at Cape Canaveral this week will require investigation. A possible launch date on the morning of Jan. 6 is in the works, with a backup date on Jan. 7. The launch is to be SpaceX’s fifth commercial resupply mission to the station with its Dragon cargo ship. NASA said this week’s launch delay will have no impact on the space station’s crew, which has adequate food, fuel and supplies.

In preparing for its next launch, SpaceX also is experimenting with making a precision landing of its Falcon 9 rocket on a custom-built ocean platform. The company has demonstrated two successful water landings and said the next launch will be part of a series of tests, with a 50 percent chance of success. The company says its project will be the first attempt of this concept, which will be used to develop a rocket that can re-enter the atmosphere, land and be fully reusable.