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1st private space cargo run delayed

03 May 2012, 13:32

Cape Canaveral - The first commercial cargo run to the International Space Station has been delayed again for more software testing.

Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, was aiming for a Monday lift-off of its Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule. But on Wednesday, the California-based company announced its latest postponement and said a new launch date had not been set.

The test flight is already three months late.

The earliest possible launch date would be next on Thursday. Otherwise, SpaceX will need to wait until the Russians send a new crew to the space station on May 15.

It will be the first time a private entity launches a supply ship to the space station. Only government space agencies currently do that.

Nasa used to stockpile the space station through the shuttles, but the fleet was retired last summer. The space agency wants commercial providers to take over that role.

SpaceX has its eyes on an even bigger prize: launching US astronauts to the space station. That's still three to five years away. Until a private company is able to do that, Americans will have to keep flying on Russian rockets for a steep price. Several US companies are vying for the job.

One American will be on the next Soyuz rocket, along with two Russians. They'll join the three men already on board: one American, one Dutchman and one Russian.

- AP


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