Upcoming SpaceX launches and tests will be delayed as long as the government shutdown continues, the company announced Monday.
Elon Musk‘s rocket company was set to run extensive prelaunch testing on its Falcon Heavy rocket this week.
But furloughed personnel at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing means that test, and future launches, will remain on hold.
“We remain hopeful that the Congress will quickly resolve their differences and put our partners in the Air Force and NASA back to doing their important work as soon as possible,” SpaceX spokesman John Taylor told CNBC. “This shutdown impacts SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy demonstration, which is critical for future NSS missions. It also impacts critical missions for our customers.”
“NSS missions” refers to national security space contracts for the Air Force, of which SpaceX has won two thus far. Worth nearly $100 million each, SpaceX hopes to win more once Falcon Heavy is operational.
Falcon Heavy is the name for the company’s biggest rocket yet, which Musk had said would launch in January. With thrust equivalent to 18 Boeing 747 aircraft at full throttle, Falcon Heavy would be the most powerful rocket in the world once operational. Testing delays have pushed back a planned static fire, in which the rocket would ignite all 27 of its engines while on the launchpad.
The new rocket’s testing and launch are set to take place on Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy.
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