Skip to Content
Space

The US government shutdown is almost certainly delaying SpaceX’s crucial launch

January 10, 2019

An update from NASA this morning confirmed that SpaceX’s first test launch of its Dragon crew capsule is going to be pushed back to February.

Kicking the rocket down the road: SpaceX had hinted the launch would be delayed when CEO Elon Musk retweeted pictures of the spacecraft on January 5 saying, “About a month away from the first orbital test flight of crew Dragon.” The launch was originally planned for January 7 and was then rescheduled to January 17.

Why the delays? The NASA announcement said the delay was “to complete hardware testing and joint reviews,” but it’s likely the US government shutdown is a contributing factor. As the shutdown drags on through its third week, many NASA scientists are furloughed or working without pay. A broken Hubble camera may not be able to be fixed until the shutdown ends, a military weather satellite program has been put on hold, and other launches are being held up as well.

Why it matters: NASA is in a hurry to get Boeing and SpaceX crewed missions up and running so it can shake off its dependence on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. The agency has purchased seats on Soyuz only through November 2019, so uncrewed test flights need to happen as soon as possible. Assuming they do, and that they’re successful, NASA’s Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are slated to fly on SpaceX’s Demo-2 test in June. That would make them the first astronauts to launch from US soil since the shuttle’s last flight in 2011.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.