Monday, January 16, 2012

SpaceX Postpones Dragon Launch

Space News reports that SpaceX has postponed its February 7 Dragon launch to the International Space Station.

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has postponed the scheduled Feb. 7 launch of its Dragon logistics capsule to the international space station for unspecified reasons, according to a company spokeswoman.

“We believe there are a few areas that will benefit from additional work and will optimize the safety and success of the mission,” SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham wrote in a Jan. 16 email to reporters. “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.”

UPDATE January 16, 2012 9:00 PM offers an analysis of the demonstration flight and an implied speculation for the delay.

The comment about launching only when the vehicle is ready is an absolute standard throughout the launch industry, yet the language of the SpaceX release matches the recent heritage of NASA managers tasked with providing a green light for a Space Shuttle launch.

The post-RTF era for the Shuttle earned a large amount of respect for NASA, as Flight Readiness Reviews and Mission Management Team meetings often slipped a launch or delayed the target date late into the flow, avoiding the obvious strain of “schedule pressure” – something which can cause a negative outcome.

UPDATE January 17, 2012Florida Today reports on the Dragon delay.

The launch could move later in the month, after a spacewalk by Russian station residents and a military satellite launch from the Cape that are planned in mid-February. After that, NASA has said opportunities in March are limited, potentially pushing the flight to April.

UPDATE January 19, 2012Space News reports that SpaceX executive and former astronaut Ken Bowersox quietly left the company late in 2011. No reason was given for his resignation. Bowersox was the vice-president for astronaut safety and mission assurance.

Of tangential note, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter that he and his wife have separated.

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