Dragon capsule pushed back a week
SpaceX, the company belonging to American billionaire Elon Musk, has decided to postpone the last qualifying flight of its Dragon capsule by one week from 30 April to 7 May in order to carry out further checks on its computer codes.
This ambitious mission is combine the objectives initially scheduled for two qualification flights (Dragon C2 and C3), prior to the capsule beginning to operate servicing flights to the International Space Station on NASA’s behalf but on a commercial basis. Once it has been put in orbit by a Falcon 9 launch vehicle - also developed by SpaceX - the capsule is to rendezvous with the Station and safely perform nearby manoeuvres (objectives of C2’s mission). It will then position itself so that it can be “captured” by the Station’s remote manipulating arm and docked with the ISS. The astronauts will go aboard and unload its contents. Having been closed, it will then be separated from the Station and sent back down to Earth so that it can be recovered off the California coast (objectives of C3’s mission).
|Maiden launch of the Dragon capsule in December 2010.
SpaceX has a lot at stake with this mission as the company has not performed any launches since the success of the Dragon C1 mission on 8 December 2010. The Dragon capsule, together with the Cygnus cargo ship one of the two commercial vehicles chosen by NASA for unmanned servicing of the ISS in order to replace the space shuttle. SpaceX is also a candidate for the future astronaut transport system with a human space flight version of the Dragon capsule which is capable of transporting up to seven astronauts per flight.
Published 24 April 2012.