SpaceX Launch To Space Station Delayed

The Dragon spacecraft and its Falcon 9 rocket, both made by SpaceX, are rolled to the launch pad ahead of the static firing test for the rocket. Photo courtesy of SpaceX.
A private spaceflight company had expected to launch a mission to the International Space Station today, but the launch has been delayed until May 19.

The much-anticipated launch will take place at Cape Canaveral in Florida, but is being handled by a private company under a NASA contract.

Kirstin Grantham is a spokeswoman for Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX.

“On the upcoming mission, we will become the first commercial company in history to attempt to send a spacecraft to the international space station.”

Previously, only the U.S., Russia, Europe and Japan had sent vehicles to the space station.

SpaceX is beginning with an unmanned cargo flight.

The rocket is called Falcon 9 and is about 18 stories high. Sitting on top is the Dragon capsule, which will return to earth and splash down in the Pacific Ocean.

It is still highly experimental — if the capsule successfully rendez-vous with the space station and performs a series of maneuvers correctly, then NASA will allow it to actually dock and unload some cargo.

Grantham says the recent delays had to do with checking the computer software onboard the rocket.

“This launch is incredibly complicated, this mission incredibly complicated. This is only the third launch of the rocket and the second launch of the spacecraft. For the first time it’s going to spend substantial time in space, our last mission was around three hours, this mission will be over two weeks.”

Grantham says even if the Dragon capsule does not complete the docking, the company will still gain valuable knowledge to move forward and try again.

From the KUHF Health and Science Desk, I’m Carrie Feibel.

Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...