A Slight Delay
Understandably, things at SpaceX were quite shaken up after the unfortunate explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket back in September. With the company recently stating that it had discovered the reason for the explosion, it seemed that normal operations would be able to resume. However, it looks like we're still seeing some lingering disruption of SpaceX's previously established plans.
In a recent NASA update regarding upcoming launches, it was revealed that SpaceX has pushed back the launch of the first manned mission of its Dragon capsule by about six months. In a statement to The Verge, the company explained its decision:
We are carefully assessing our designs, systems, and processes taking into account the lessons learned and corrective actions identified. Our schedule reflects the additional time needed for this assessment and implementation.
To make up for the delay, SpaceX is planning for an unmanned launch in November of 2017 to test any updates made in response to the Falcon 9 explosion. The manned mission is now set for May 2018.
Onward and Upward
As discouraging as these delays and other setbacks are, the determination of SpaceX to take the time to get it right is admirable.
In many ways, the company is leading the charge in space exploration. It has plans in motion to land on Mars in 2018, followed by missions that will bring people to the Red Planet by 2025. Just this past July, an unmanned mission delivered supplies, including a handheld DNA sequencer, to astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Currently, the only way to transport humans to the ISS is through Russia at a very high cost (about $81 million per seat). Given the U.S.'s current relationship with the country and difficulties with the Russian ship (Soyuz), being able to deliver supplies and scientists to the ISS on our own terms is of the utmost importance.