Delay for SpaceX CRS-5?

Delay for SpaceX CRS-5?

Several sources on Twitter report that Friday’s scheduled launch of the fifth SpaceX operational cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) will be delayed.  The mission is designated CRS-5 or SpX-5.  No official confirmation of the delay had been issued as of 11:45 pm EST today (December 17).

SpaceX, NASA and the Air Force 45th Space Wing, which controls the Cape Canaveral launch site that is part of the Eastern Test Range, have not updated information on their websites as the time this article is being published.   According to those sources, the launch is still scheduled for 1:22 pm EST on December 19.

However,’s Chris Bergin tweeted (@NASASpaceflight) early today that the static test fire of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket did not go as planned and later posted a story that the launch “likely” will slip to January.   Florida Today’s James Dean (@flatoday_jdean) also tweeted that “sounds like Friday is out” and “launch readiness TBC tomorrow.”   SpaceCoastLaunch (@SCLaunch321), whose identity is not provided on Twitter, tweeted that “range has confirmed that the CRS-5 mission has slipped to 6 JAN 2015,”  The “range” is personnel at the Eastern Test Range.

We will update this article as soon as official information is available from SpaceX, NASA, or the Air Force.  SpaceX and NASA have not yet replied to emailed queries from

NASA has three pre-launch press conferences scheduled for tomorrow beginning with a status report at 12:00 pm EST.

The primary purpose of this launch is to deliver cargo to the ISS, but SpaceX also plans to test landing the rocket’s first stage on a barge.  SpaceX founder and chief designer Elon Musk wants to develop reusable first stages and conducted tests on two previous NASA cargo launches to determine that the first stage could be returned vertically to the ocean — which he calls a soft water landing.  Once those first stages reached the water they tipped over, of course.   This will be the first attempt to land on a barge where the rocket should remain vertical.  

SpaceX calls the barge an “autonomous spaceport drone ship” that is 300-by-100 feet with “wings that extend its width to 170 feet.”  It is targeting a landing accuracy of 10 meters (approximately 30 feet) and the rocket stage has a legspan of 70 feet.  The company rates the probability of success at “50 percent at best.”  All of the activities associated with attempting to land the first stage takes place after the Dragon spacecraft has separated from the stage and is on its way to ISS, so should not affect mission success for NASA.

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