SpaceX Postpones Station-bound Dragon Launch

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WASHINGTON — Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has postponed the scheduled Feb. 7 launch of its Dragon logistics capsule to the international space station for unspecified reasons, according to a company spokeswoman.

“We believe there are a few areas that will benefit from additional work and will optimize the safety and success of the mission,” SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham wrote in a Jan. 16 email to reporters. “We are now working with NASA to establish a new target launch date, but note that we will continue to test and review data. We will launch when the vehicle is ready.”

NASA announced in early December that SpaceX would attempt to launch Feb. 7 and that the company had been given tentative approval to send its Dragon spacecraft to rendezvous with the space station during the mission. Successful completion of that mission would clear Dragon to begin making regular cargo deliveries to the space station under a $1.6 billion NASA contract.

William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, cautioned in December that the launch date was subject to change.

“There is still a significant amount of critical work to be completed before launch, but the teams have a sound plan to complete it and are prepared for unexpected challenges,” Gerstenmaier said in a Dec. 9 press release announcing the Feb. 7 launch target. “As with all launches, we will adjust the launch date as needed to gain sufficient understanding of test and analysis results to ensure safety and mission assurance.”