The maiden flight of SpaceX's Dragon capsule originally planned for 7 Decemeber has been postponed due to a crack in the engine nozzle on the rocket's second stage.
During a routine review of close-out photos of the rocket on 6 December, SpaceX engineers discovered the three-inch the crack. The company and NASA continue to prepare the rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40 in Florida, but NASA says take off will come 8 December at the earliest.
SpaceX is considering several options, including repairing the crack or shipping a replacement part from California.
Though the company and NASA have identified an approximately three-and-a-half hour launch window, from 9:00 to 12:22 EST, will be available through 9 December.
The Dragon spacecraft's first flight is also the first time the FAA has issued a re-entry license to a commercial company to re-enter a spacecraft from orbit and the first flight under a NASA demonstration program helping to develop new commercial vehicles. The mission, the second for the Falcon 9 two-stage-to-orbit vehicle, is intended to prove the structural integrity of the Dragon spacecraft, on-orbit operation, re-entry, descent and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.