SpaceX has once again delayed the launch of their Dragon Capsule to the International Space Station. The latest launch date was set to next Monday, May 7, but has been postponed to a later, unknown date.
However, don’t let the multiple delays cause you to lose faith in the ability of SpaceX to accomplish its mission. SpaceX decided to postpone the launch because of their own meticulous caution and expert discretion, not because of NASA oversight or any regulatory authority. This exemplifies the commitment of SpaceX to complete their mission successfully and safely.
The latest delay was caused by software problems, which seems to be the reoccurring culprit. The complicated nature of the challenge SpaceX is facing cannot be understated. Past worries have included ensuring that the systems on the Dragon Capsule do not interfere with systems on the International Space Station and enabling the crew on the ISS to override the Dragon Capsule and force it to retreat if they discover that something isn’t right.
All of these issues are being addressed by SpaceX out of their own self-interest. It is an interesting example of how companies often regulate themselves more strictly and thoroughly than government agencies. I expect this trend to continue on to other private companies seeking to make a profit in space. Accidents cause people to lose faith in a company which translates into the company losing money. This effect is amplified by the unfamiliar and dangerous nature of space.
SpaceX is doing a great job at ensuring that what they have control over goes according to plan. Of course, there are many known and unknown variables that are out of their control, so success will never be certain. However, if SpaceX continues to remain committed to a high level of excellence, we can be certain that their procedures will be models for other pioneering companies in the space industry.