Space Exploration Technologies’ historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS) isn’t quite ready for prime time, the company, which is owned and operated by internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, said this week.
So the launch dress rehearsal, scheduled for this week, as well as the launch itself, targeted for Feb. 7, are both on hold, pending the resolution of several unidentified technical issues, spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham tells Discovery News.
The flight would be the first by a privately owned spaceship to the station.
The company, also known as SpaceX, already has a NASA contract to fly cargo to the space station. Before diving into that work, however, SpaceX has to prove it has the right stuff.
Step one occurred in December 2010, when SpaceX launched, orbited and landed a Dragon capsule. It has two more test flights to go, but the company plans to combine them into a single mission, culminating with a berthing at the space station and a successful return to Earth.
No new launch date has been set.
The company also has NASA backing to upgrade its Dragon cargo ship to carry people.
NASA, which retired the space shuttles last year, is investing in four firms in hopes of being able to buy rides for its astronauts on U.S. carriers, rather than pay Russia for flight services. Russia currently charges about $60 million per person for transportation to and from the station.
The next solicitation for companies vying to develop space taxis for NASA is expected in February.
Image: SpaceX hopes to fly its Dragon capsule to the space station on its next flight. Illustration by SpaceX/NASA