Space enthusiasts have been looking forward to May 7, the date set for SpaceX to launch its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft for a rendezvous with the International Space Station. Now it appears they'll have to wait a bit longer.
"At this time, a May 7 launch appears unlikely," SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Grantham told the AFP in an interview yesterday. "SpaceX is continuing to work through the software assurance process with NASA. We will issue a statement as soon as a new launch target is set."
SpaceX had originally planned to launch the spacecraft this week, but pushed the event back to give engineers more time to complete preflight testing and analysis. Last week, it set the May 7 launch date, scheduling the spacecraft to liftoff from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 6:38 a.m. PT.
Now that SpaceX has all but decided to push the launch back, May 8 and May 9 are not available launch windows, leaving May 10 the earliest date for another launch. Grantham told the AFP that May 10 was still a possible launch day, but if the company doesn't believe that'll work, it could be pushed back more than a week.
The excitement surrounding SpaceX's launch is palpable. If all goes well, the company's spacecraft will be the first privately built and funded spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station. The goal is for SpaceX to conduct regular commercial cargo missions to the space station.
"It's almost like the lead-up to Apollo, in my mind," Mike Horkachuck, NASA's project executive for SpaceX, said in a statement last week. "You had Mercury then you had Gemini and eventually you had Apollo. This would be similar in the sense that, we're not going to the moon or anything as spectacular as that, but we are in the beginnings of commercializing space. This may be the Mercury equivalent to eventually flying crew and then eventually leading to, in the long run, passenger travel in space."
Grantham expects SpaceX to issue a statement tomorrow on its spacecraft's new launch date. Let's hope it comes sooner rather than later.