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Launch to Space Station Delayed by Private Space Company

(SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveils the Falcon Heavy rocket at the National Press Club in Washington,DC on April 5, 2011.)

Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will have to wait a couple of more weeks for their first commercial cargo run to arrive.

Deciding that more testing was needed, SpaceX postponed the launch of its unmanned ship, the Dragon, and officials pushed the launch date from Feb. 7 to sometime in late March. Just over a year ago, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. became the first private business to not only put a spacecraft in orbit, but also safely bring it back to earth.

NASA, which recently retired its 30-year shuttle program and relies heavily on the Russian, European, and Japanese space agencies to keep the ISS supplied, is hoping to work with private companies like SpaceX in the near future. Their hope is that modified craft will not just be able to ferry supplies, but people as well. According to space station astronaut Donald Pettit, “This will be one step in the long road to human expansion off of the planet into low-Earth orbit and beyond.”

It also means those space station astronauts may get some commercial goods, though a shipment of real ice cream is probably a long ways off.