SpaceX’s upcoming launch from Kennedy Space Center was delayed to Wednesday for fueling and other processing ahead of the journey, which will see six astronauts settle into the Crew Dragon capsule for the first time. The flight will also mark an important milestone in NASA’s efforts to send humans to the moon again and return to the International Space Station.
Musk tweeted on Sunday that it would be in “extraordinarily rare circumstances” if the Crew Dragon went on to re-land, as originally planned, and the company would consider options for recovery of the capsule “if the landing is a disaster”.
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The Crew Dragon capsule is the first in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to use a crewed capsule built entirely by private industry. It consists of a carbon-fiber composite capsule with one-thousandth the mass of the shuttle craft, and one-thousandth the diameter, and is designed to carry up to seven astronauts. It would join two Soyuz craft currently ferrying NASA astronauts to the ISS, a space station built at a cost of more than $80bn.
The flight originally had been planned for October, but was delayed.