SpaceX Delays Dragon Cargo Launch to Space Station until March

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By Parismita Goswami | March 15, 2014 9:33 PM EST

The commercial dragon space capsule that was to travel to the International Space Station with food and other such supplies for crew members has been delayed, according to SpaceX builders.

NASA
SpaceX Delays Dragon Cargo Launch to Space Station until March

The delay has been made following a contamination cited. A type of oily residue has been detected in the SpaceX Dragon capsule, according to NASA officials.

The concern over the oily residue is that if this oil vaporizes in space, it could contaminate the delicate and expensive optics used in costly experiment.

Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS), the experiment is one among the 150 experiments that were expected to be launched this weekend to the International Space Station as a part of a $1.5 billion contract with SpaceX. 

SpaceX had planned to launch Falcon 9 rocket carrying the dragon spacecraft to the space station on 16 March.

"Both Falcon 9 and Dragon are in good health. Given the critical payloads on board and significant upgrades to Dragon, the additional time will ensure SpaceX does everything possible on the ground to prepare for a successful launch." said SpaceX officials said in a statement.

The launch was cancelled on Thursday, when this strange oily residue was found on the thermal blanket. The blanket is used to guard the experiment inside the SpaceX Dragon capsule.

It's unclear as to what the substance is and how it reached there. To clean the spacecraft, SpaceX will have to remove a portion of the assembled rocket and clean the residue off.

It is expected that the cleaning procedure will take some time and will not be launched before the end of March, NASA officials confirmed.

SpaceX launches its Dragon missions to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The first Dragon mission was launched in 2010 and two of its 12 cargo missions have been flown under NASA deal.

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(Photo: NASA / )
SpaceX Delays Dragon Cargo Launch to Space Station until March
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