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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft on their Cape Canaveral pad before a September launch to the International Space Station.(Photo: SpaceX)
Update, 9:30 a.m.:
FLORIDA TODAY has confirmed that Friday's SpaceX launch has been delayed to early January.
A series of issues are working against the launch, including a recent static fire test that did not run its full duration, according to SpaceX. Out of an abundance of caution, the company wants to execute a second test before launch.
A second complication facing the launch involves the angle of the sun on the International Space Station – if it had docked, it could have faced temperature issues and overheated.
SpaceX cited those issues, combined with the upcoming holidays, as reasons for delaying Friday's launch.
The first available date for a launch in 2015 would be Jan. 6.
NASA says the delay will not affect the space station or its six occupants.
The space agency is paying SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp. to launch supplies and experiments to the orbiting lab. Orbital's shipments are on hold, however, because of October's launch explosion. The Antares rocket blew up seconds after liftoff from Wallops Island, Virginia.
Orbital Sciences said it will be 2016 before it can launch again with an improved Antares rocket from Wallops Island. The Virginia-based company is shifting much of its intended station shipment to an Atlas rocket that would fly from Cape Canaveral sometime later next year. A second Atlas might also be needed to pick up the slack.
Sources: Florida Today and Associated Press
A meeting this morning is expected to confirm if SpaceX will be ready to launch its next International Space Station resupply mission from Cape Canaveral this week, or if the mission could be postponed until early next year.
The launch of a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo capsule had been targeted for 1:22 p.m. Friday.
It appears that won't be possible, however, after SpaceX encountered trouble during a Tuesday test-firing of the rocket's nine main engines at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to questions about the mission's status.
NASA expects SpaceX to repeat the engine test, possibly as soon as today or Friday.
A launch then might still be possible this weekend, or a decision could be made to wait until after the holidays.
SpaceX will brief station managers on the mission's status during a meeting at 9 a.m. today.
If not sooner, an official update could come by noon, when Kennedy Space Center plans to host the first in a series of afternoon news briefings about the mission and the science experiments it will fly to the station.
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