First Comm’l Flight To Space Station Delayed, More Tests Scheduled

WASHINGTON (dpa) The first commercial spacecraft due to dock with the International Space Station could be delayed by as much as a week to allow more testing, the chief of private venture Space X said Monday.

Chief executive Elon Musk said on Twitter that the planned April 30 launch would be pushed back approximately one week to allow the company time to test the systems that it will use to dock with the station. A new launch date would be set in coordination with US space agency NASA.

Space X’s Dragon spacecraft is to take a three-day flight to the ISS and undertake a series of complicated docking maneuvers and tests designed to prove it can safely latch onto the orbiting station.

The Dragon capsule will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and carry 521 kilograms of cargo, mainly food for astronauts living on the station. If all goes as planned it will return to Earth with 660 kilograms of discarded cargo.

At a media briefing last week, NASA and Space X said they were confident about the mission, but stressed it was a test flight and the docking to the station would be particularly difficult.

The Dragon is to remain at the station for several weeks to unload cargo before returning home and splashing down off the coast of California.

The move is seen as a landmark in the development of a commercial spaceflight industry that is to eventually carry astronauts aloft in coming years.

NASA retired its ageing space shuttle fleet last year and plans to focus on developing craft to travel on longer missions, with their sights eventually set on Mars. It hopes to shift short-range flights to the ISS and elsewhere to the commercial space industry, but until then is reliant on Russian Soyuz craft to carry astronauts aloft.

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(1) First Comm’l Flight To Space Station Delayed, More Tests Scheduled
URL: http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/357976/first-comm-l-flight-to-space-station-delayed-more-tests-scheduled



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