SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is one of the spacecraft that NASA will eventually use to ferry astronauts into space, but it’s not quite there yet. Unfortunately, an anticipated January test flight has now been pushed back for unspecified reasons, and NASA now says that Crew Dragon won’t life off until February at the earliest.
SpaceX has been working to fill NASA’s need for a crew-capable ship that it can launch on its own terms without relying on Russia’s Soyuz rockets, but the company has been hit with several setbacks that pushed back its delivery timeline. It’s still unclear at this point when Crew Dragon might actually be ready for use in a NASA mission.
NASA’s statement on the delay doesn’t shed a lot of light on what caused this particular delay:
NASA and SpaceX are continuing to work on the activities leading toward the Demo-1, uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station. NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than February for the launch of Demo-1 to complete hardware testing and joint reviews. NASA and SpaceX will confirm a new target date after coordination with the Eastern Range and the International Space Station Program.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket have been occupying a launch pad at Kennedy Space Center for several days now while SpaceX prepares it for its upcoming test. SpaceX boss Elon Musk tweeted photos of the spacecraft with its new crew walkway attached, raising excitement for the spacecraft’s big day.
Getting a rocket into space is a tricky thing, as SpaceX’s long history of missteps has made abundantly clear. To the company’s credit, it’s continued to push forward and make incredible progress, and we have to expect that Crew Dragon will be another feather in its cap once all the kinks are ironed out. Still, it would be nice to see it in action, but it looks like we’ll have to wait a little while longer.