The historic flight of the first commercial transport to the International Space Station will have to wait at least another week. “After reviewing our recent progress, it was clear that we needed more time to finish hardware-in-the-loop testing and properly review and follow up on all data,” SpaceX said in a statement today. “While it is still possible that we could launch on May 3rd, it would be wise to add a few more days of margin in case things take longer than expected. As a result, our launch is likely to be pushed back by one week, pending coordination with NASA.”
And so, the launch which was going to take place on April 30 is now pushed back to no earlier than May 7. A static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket that SpaceX had hoped to do today was slipped to the 27th, making the all the preparations for the launch next Monday a tight squeeze.
When launched, the Dragon will arrive at the ISS one to three days later and once there, Dragon will begin the demonstrations related to the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Phase 2 agreements (COTS 2) to show proper performance and control in the vicinity of the ISS, while remaining outside the Station’s safe zone. Then, if all goes well, Dragon will receive approval to begin the COTS 3 activities, where it will gradually approach within a few meters of the ISS, allowing astronauts to reach out and grapple Dragon with the Station’s robotic arm and then maneuver it carefully into one of the docking ports.
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.