The upcoming launch of SpaceX’s astronaut-ferrying capsule, the Crew Dragon, has been postponed yet again. Known as the Demo-1 mission, or DM-1, the first test flight of the Crew Dragon will now take place “no earlier than February,” NASA announced today.
According to the launch update, the DM-1 test flight — which entails an unmanned trip to the International Space Station (ISS) — has been delayed in order to buy NASA and SpaceX additional time “to complete hardware testing and joint reviews.”
“NASA and SpaceX will confirm a new target date after coordination with the Eastern Range and the International Space Station Program,” the space agency detailed in a blog post.
The highly-anticipated event will propel U.S. spaceflight into a new era, enabling NASA to launch astronauts from American soil for the first time since the agency shut down its Space Shuttle Program in 2011.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, the first test flight of the Crew Dragon was originally scheduled for January 7. In December, NASA let the world know that DM-1 was being pushed back 10 days, announcing a liftoff date of January 17. Last week, Spaceflight Now noted that the mission could suffer another delay — and, sure enough, that prediction has just turned into a reality.
In preparation for its first voyage to the ISS, the Crew Dragon spacecraft rolled out onto its launch pad on January 3, the Inquisitr reported at the time. The new-generation astronaut pod was joined on the historic Launch Complex 39A pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will give it a ride into orbit — a “Block 5” first stage booster dubbed B1051.
The Falcon 9 rocket went vertical on the LC-39A launch pad on January 5. To mark the special occasion, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk showed off the Crew Dragon capsule atop its Falcon 9 rocket in a tweet accompanied by four snapshots of the two spacecraft.
About a month away from the first orbital test flight of crew Dragon https://t.co/U01Oxu3M7E— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 5, 2019
More photos of the Crew Dragon — and the Falcon 9 — on their way to the launch pad are available on the media outlet Teslarati. Said site also comments on how the current partial government shutdown could affect the progress of the DM-1’s follow-up mission — the first crewed test flight of the astronaut pod, DM-2.
“Ultimately, a single month of delays at this phase of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon launch debut preparations could snowball into even worse delays for the crewed DM-2 and PCM-1 (Post-Certification Mission) missions and beyond, all of which are heavily dependent on NASA completing a vast sea of paperwork that would likely be ongoing at this very moment if 95 percent of the agency’s staff wasn’t furloughed,” notes Teslarati.