The launch of a second private space station prototype has been delayed until late next month to allow additional tests of its Dnepr booster rocket.
Genesis 2, an inflatable module built by the Las Vegas, Nevada-based firm Bigelow Aerospace, will fly four weeks later than planned due to the extra checks, said Robert Bigelow, the firm?s founder, in a statement released Thursday. The module was previously targeted for a late May launch from Russia?s Yasny Launch Base in Siberia.
"We now expect the launch of Genesis 2 to occur in late June,? Bigelow wrote.
Genesis 2, which follows the successful 2006 launch of Bigelow Aerospace?s Genesis 1 spacecraft, is an inflatable module laden with 22 cameras, a ?Space Bingo? game, personal items launched for paying customers. It is the second Bigelow Aerospace Pathfinder Mission aimed at testing technology that could one day lead to privately built space stations in Earth orbit.
?The path to space has never been and will never be simple of easy,? Bigelow said in his statement.
The liftoff of Genesis 2 has encountered a series of delays, the latest of which can be traced back to the July 2006 failure of a Dnepr rocket that prompting the booster?s joint Russian-Ukrainian launch provider ISC Kosmotras to postpone space shots until a successful April 17 launch.
?[W]e experienced similar delays on the Genesis 1 campaign and, of course, were quite pleased with the end result,? Bigelow stated. ?Moreover, since Genesis 2 contains a variety of important mementos, photos and other personal items as part of our ?Fly Your Stuff? program, both Kosmotras and Bigelow Aerospace are proceeding with great caution in order to safely and successfully deliver the spacecraft to orbit.?
Like Genesis 1, Genesis 2 is powered by a series of solar panels designed to deploy in Earth orbit. The new spacecraft is identical in size to its predecessor and is about 15 feet (4.4 meters) long. Its diameter is designed to expand from an initial 6.2 feet (1.9 meters) to about eight feet (2.54 meters) when fully inflated.
The module is a one-third scale version of future manned orbital modules planned for launch by Bigelow Aerospace, the firm has said.
Bigelow Aerospace officials plan to launch a new inflatable module, dubbed Galaxy, in 2008. The human-habitable Sundancer vehicle could follow in 2010 as a predecessor to the larger BA 330 module, the Las Vegas-based firm has said.
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