SpaceX has decided to move the scheduled launch of its first crewed Dragon capsule from late 2017 to 2018.
According to a post on the NASA blog, the American aerospace company's manned spaceflight demonstration is now set to take place in May 2018.
Many observers believe SpaceX would have to rethink its timetable for space launches after it suffered a huge blow following the explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket in September. The mishap occurred while the spacecraft was being fueled on a launch pad in Florida.
The company has said that it still needs more time to conduct the necessary adjustments to its spaceflight plans.
"We are carefully assessing our designs, systems, and processes taking into account the lessons learned and corrective actions identified" SpaceX said. "Our schedule reflects the additional time needed for this assessment and implementation."
The NASA article also has SpaceX's unmanned Crew Dragon demonstration slated for November 2017.
Another Delay For NASA's Space Program
SpaceX's move to delay the crewed Dragon capsule launch serves as another challenge for NASA. The space agency has been trying to send astronauts into space again on American-made spacecraft, but so far it hasn't had much luck.
NASA has tapped two of the biggest aerospace companies in the United States — SpaceX and Boeing — to help carry out its Commercial Crew Program. Under this deal, both companies are tasked with designing and building spacecraft that can transport passengers to the Earth's lower orbit.
For its part, SpaceX has developed the Dragon capsule, which it has already used to carry supplies and other cargo to the crew of the International Space Station (ISS).
Boeing, on the other hand, is working with fellow space company Bigelow Aerospace to build their own transport capsule known as the CST-100 Starliner.
SpaceX and Boeing were scheduled to launch their crewed spaceflights in 2017, but both companies had to move their target dates because of production issues.
Boeing said its CST-100 Starliner capsule will be ready for its first orbital test flight by June 2018 and a manned spaceflight by August of the same year.
The delay of the Commercial Crew Program is forcing NASA to still rely on Russia's spaceflights in order to transport astronauts to the ISS. A single seat on a Soyuz rocket costs about $81 million for the American space agency.
This also limits NASA's ability to send manned missions into space since there are no other viable options to do so other than on a Russian-made rocket.