SpaceX planned to launch the company’s first crewed flight – which should take astronauts to the ISS (International Space Station) and back – during late 2017, in cooperation with NASA. The first test flight was planned as unmanned, with the manned flight happening after the test using SpaceX’s Dragon capsule. Now, in the wake of recent Falcon 9 rocket explosion, the company decided to postpone the mission for May 2018, with the test flight happening in November 2017.
The delay was expected in the midst of Falcon 9 explosion on September 1, according to Space News. NASA did not provide details for delaying the test flight, but SpaceX spokesperson, Phil Larson did provide some details regarding the delay. The statement reads “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.”
The company will partner with NASA in order to perform “a detailed safety analysis of all potential hazards” concerning its fueling process; NASA already approved a report in July by NASA’s Safety Technical Review Board which intensified certain controls that have to be employed in order to address mentioned hazards. NASA already had concerns with SpaceX’s “unique and contrarian fueling process,” because the system includes people on board the rocket.
The fueling process is happening just thirty minutes before launch, the reason why experts, along with NASA, are criticizing it. Also, Former astronaut and retired Air Force Lt. General Thomas Stafford, wrote NASA expressing concerns about the fueling process. He explained it as “a hazardous operation” and reminded the space agency about experts’ concerns about it.