1st private cargo run to space station delayed

1st private cargo run to space station delayed

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

The US company SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is seen on launch pad 40 on December 07, 2010 at Cape Canaveral in Florida as final preparations are made for the rescheduled Wednesday morning, December 8, 2010 launch. Liftoff was postponed after engineers found a three-inch (eight-centimeter) crack in the engine nozzle of the Falcon 9 rocket that was to carry the Dragon space capsule, NASA said. The Dragon spacecraft aims to blast off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, hurtle into orbit and then splash into the Pacific Ocean about four to five hours later. The operation hopes to showcase the capsule's ability to launch and separate from the Falcon 9 rocket, orbit Earth, transmit signals and receive commands, and then re-enter the Earth's atmosphere for an ocean recovery. If the Dragon launch is successful, the next step is for a fly-by of the ISS as part of a five-day mission in which the Dragon will approach the orbiting station within six miles (10 kilometers). AFP PHOTO / Bruce Weaver (Photo credit should read BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images)

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KMOV.com

Posted on May 3, 2012 at 9:51 AM

   CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- The first commercial cargo run to the International Space Station has been delayed again for more software testing.

   Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, was aiming for a Monday liftoff of its Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule. But on Wednesday, the California-based company announced its latest postponement and said a new launch date had not been set.

   The test flight already is three months late.

   The earliest possible launch date would be next Thursday. Otherwise, SpaceX will need to wait until the Russians send a new crew to the space station on May 15.

   It will be the first time a private entity launches a supply ship to the space station. Only government space agencies currently do that.

   NASA used to stockpile the space station through the shuttles, but the fleet was retired last summer. The space agency wants commercial providers to take over that role.

   SpaceX has its eyes on an even bigger prize: launching U.S. astronauts to the space station. That's still three to five years away. Until a private company is able to do that, Americans will have to keep flying on Russian rockets for a steep price. Several U.S. companies are vying for the job.

   One American will be on the next Soyuz rocket, along with two Russians. They'll join the three men already on board: one American, one Dutchman and one Russian.
 

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