SpaceX Dragon Capsule Launch to the International Space Station

SpaceX’s mission patch for the CRS-13 cargo mission. Credit SpaceX

The company confirmed multiple reports that the flight would be pushed back until Friday in a tweet Tuesday evening, blaming the delay on the discovery of unexpected particles in the Falcon 9 rocket's second stage fuel system.

SpaceX is also preparing for the first launch of the Falcon Heavy. The launch plan to include a used Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule which contains NASA cargo.

Discussions about using a reflown booster on a CRS mission started almost a year ago, said Jessica Jensen, director of Dragon mission management at SpaceX.

"Taking additional time for the team to conduct full inspections and cleanings due to detection of particles in 2nd stage fuel system", the company tweeted.

NASA said the private rocket company requested the one-day delay so it could have more time for prelaunch ground systems checks.

"We're very comfortable that the risk posture on this vehicle is not significantly greater than a new booster", Kirk Shireman, NASA ISS program manager, said at a pre-launch press conference December 11.

Wednesday's planned mission is SpaceX's 13th trip to supply the space station in a series of cargo runs that began in October 2012. The broadcast is scheduled to start at 10:45 a.m. ET to accommodate the launch window, which opens at 11:24 a.m.

Construction members made KSC's pad 39A, which SpaceX had already leased from NASA and altered from its space shuttle layout, to support Falcon 9 flights this year, then turned their attention to repairing and upgrading pad 40. The launch, set for Wednesday, will be the first from Cape Canaveral's Complex 40 launch pad since August 2016. The Dragon spacecraft will deliver almost 4,800 lbs. Shkaplerov, a veteran Russian cosmonaut, will be joined by two spaceflight rookies: NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and Japanese flight engineer Norishige Kanai. The Dragon will remain attached to the ISS for a month before it returns to Earth.

"In a high solar beta, or a high solar angle regime, basically the ISS doesn't see a sunset or a sunrise", said Kirk Shireman, NASA's space station program manager, in a briefing with reporters Monday.

"For the remainder of the current CRS contract, we are planning to continue to just use refurbished Dragons", Jensen said. Jensen said that will be followed in early January by the classified "Zuma" mission, which was to launch from Florida in November but was postponed to study a potential payload fairing issue during tests for another mission.

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