In a Friday press conference reported by Mashable, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said the company was delaying its first mission to Mars. The company had initially hoped to launch a robotic mission known as Red Dragon sometime next year, but Shotwell said the company is shifting focus to other projects and will move its Red Dragon target to 2020.
The delay comes after a challenging 2016 for the Elon Musk-headed company. The September explosion of a Falcon 9 during a firing test triggered an extensive investigation, and put launches for the remainder of the year on hold. Those delays cost the company at least one launch order.
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Meanwhile, NASA recently awarded SpaceX, along with Boeing, new contracts for shuttling astronauts to the International Space Station. Mashable points out that a GAO report issued this week suggests neither SpaceX nor Boeing are on track to meet the original timeline for that contract.
And today, SpaceX experienced another (probably less severe) delay, as it scrubbed a planned launch seconds before takeoff.
So, as exciting as Elon Musk’s proclamations about Mars are, it would appear to be time to focus on the (revenue-generating) tasks at hand.