SpaceX Rocket Launch for NASA Delayed to Friday for Extra Inspections

SpaceX's planned launch of a Dragon spacecraft destined for the International Space Station has been delayed to no earlier than Friday.

CEO Elon Musk hasn't tweeted about the delay yet, and the company has not yet responded to a Gizmodo request for comment.

The launch is a first for SpaceX, and its breakthrough could pave the way for a more sustainable space trip. The 156-foot-tall booster flew on a previous ISS resupply mission in June 2017 and the Dragon spacecraft - also used - traveled to the ISS in April 2015. (CRS is short for commercial resupply service.) The mission was originally scheduled to launch December 8.

"Taking additional time for the team to conduct full inspections and cleanings due to detection of particles in 2nd stage fuel system", the company tweeted.

Tune in starting at 11:15 a.m. ET tomorrow, as NASA begins their live coverage of SpaceX's Dragon CRS-13 cargo mission, which is scheduled to lift-off from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 40 at 11:46 a.m. ET.

Location: Launch Complex 40.

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This cargo flight is carrying almost 2,200 kg of cargo, supplies and science experiments to the International Space Station, where it is expected to arrive for berthing on Friday, December 15.

The Dragon spacecraft - scheduled to arrive at the station later in the weekend - will be packed with almost 4,900 pounds of cargo.

Assuming the robotic cargo mission takes off Friday, the Dragon capsule should arrive at the space station Sunday. When a Falcon 9 and its satellite payload blew up in September, 2016, the explosion did significant damage to Space Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The fresh residents, led by Soyuz commander Anton Shkaplerov, will fly to the station inside the Russian Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft. The Dragon will remain attached to the ISS for a month before it returns to Earth.

As the SpaceX Rocket launch has been postponed, this is the second launch delay in the last two days, and third generally for the SpaceX mission, called CRS-13.

"In a high solar beta, or a high solar angle regime, basically the ISS doesn't see a sunset or a sunrise", said Kirk Shireman, NASA's space station program manager, in a briefing with reporters Monday. Since the incident, SpaceX had moved its launches to Pad 39A, which is where the Apollo missions to the Moon had blasted off. "We've put in a lot of provisions to protect the equipment", he said.

  • Rita Burton