Bigelow Aerospace announced this week that the launch of its Genesis 2 spacecraft will be delayed by two months until approximately April 1 because of launch vehicle issues. “Naturally, we are all disappointed because the spacecraft was and is ready to ship out to meet the original Jan. 30 launch date,” Robert Bigelow said in a statement. “We now expect to ship the spacecraft for flight sometime in the early part of March for a launch on or about April 1.”
While Bigelow said that the company had been “recently” notified of the launch delay, it had been clear for some time that Genesis 2 would not launch at the end of January as previously planned. Back in November Bigelow Aerospace’s Mike Gold said that the launch would take place at “the early end” of the first quarter, which seemed to suggest some time in March. The launch had been postponed because of a late-July failure of a Dnepr booster (on the launch immediately after the successful Genesis 1 launch), requiring an investigation. Kazakhstan just gave its approval to resume Dnepr launches from Baikonur this month, lifting a ban enacted after the July accident. While this probably does not directly affect the Genesis 2 launch (which will presumably take place from the Yasny base in Russia, as was the case for Genesis 1), the ban on launches has created a backlog in Dnepr launches. At least two Dnepr launches are ahead of Genesis 2: a launch of multiple small satellites later this month, and a late February launch of the European TerraSAR-X radar imaging satellite.