SpaceX Demo Flight 1 could slip to March
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The world is on the edge of its seat waiting for the first flight of a crew-rated Dragon spacecraft. It appears it will have to wait a little longer.
An FCC for Special Temporary Authority (STA) which was applied for on Wednesday Jan. 30, 2019, suggests that SpaceX will attempt the maiden flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft (in an uncrewed capacity) no earlier than March 2.
The Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket selected for this mission was erected at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in January. This does not mean a launch date is set in stone. In fact, Demonstration Mission 1 has had no fewer than 14 postponements. An array of factors can come in play to see a flight delayed.
The request states the following:
“This STA is necessary for Dragon2 capsule telemetry, tracking, and command, for the upcoming SpaceX Commercial Crew vehicle demonstration mission to the International Space Station. The launch and re-entry licensing authority is the FAA. Launch is also to be coordinated with the Eastern Range. On-orbit rendezvous with the ISS is to be coordinated with the NASA.
“The reason for the application of this document is listed as follows: STA is required for capsule communications for SpaceX Commercial Crew vehicle demonstration mission to the ISS.”
The operation start date is listed as being March 2, 2019, and it closes on the same day in September. This latest revision to the launch date was also noted on NASASpaceFlight.com.
SpaceX checked out the nine Merlin 1D engines located in the rocket’s first stage on Thursday, Jan. 24 during a static fire test. This is one of the final milestones that SpaceX conducts before a flight.
SpaceFlight Insider has reached out to SpaceX for confirmation of a launch delay from the previous date of Feb. 23 to NET March 2. As of this posting we have not received a response. Should one be provided, we will update the article accordingly.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.