Elon Musk is facing delays everywhere, it seems: first the Tesla Model 3, and now SpaceX’s manned Dragon capsule is pushed back to 2018.
What is this SpaceX Dragon capsule anyway?
Originally scheduled to launch in 2017, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is designed to fly two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (and ultimately beyond). Elon Musk’s company already succeeded in sending cargo to and from the ISS, but this would be the first time for a manned mission. And SpaceX isn’t the only one trying to be the first.
Boeing is also trying to send astronauts to the ISS in conjunction with NASA, and similar to SpaceX, 2017 was its ultimate goal and has since been pushed back to June of 2018. Well, now that its rival’s projected date has also been pushed to 2018, the competition to become the first private company to send astronauts to space is becoming fiercer than ever.
Not so smooth, SpaceX
The process to send astronauts to the ISS is a complicated and rigorous one without doubt. But SpaceX’s mission has been quite bumpy, to say the least. Just a few months ago, a SpaceX Falcon 9 exploded on the launchpad, and the rocket engines weren’t even firing. This has raised a few eyebrows, and the company even lost an important contract over it.
SpaceX is now looking to revamp its fueling procedures for Falcon 9 rockets, and that’s why the planned launch is pushed back to 2018, according to TechCrunch. The company claims that it needs more time for assessment and implementations regarding its “designs, systems and processes” and will make changes if determined necessary.
Though SpaceX hasn’t provided many details, it is in the process of finalizing its investigation into the explosion at the launchpad which happened back in September, and says the team is continuing to “work closely with NASA and is completing all planned milestones for this period.”
According to SpaceX’s newly revised timeline, its demo without astronauts should still happen in 2017, and its first manned mission should happen some time in May of 2018, just a month before Boeing’s scheduled time.