SpaceX can’t test launch Falcon Heavy while government is shut down

SpaceX is impacted by the ongoing U.S. government shutdown — which is bad news both for its pending Falcon Heavy test flight, as well as for its other missions, which include imminent ISS resupply and commercial satellite launches. The Verge has confirmed that SpaceX’s dependence on U.S. Air Force support for launch operations at Cape Canaveral has held up any potential launch operations there for the private space company helmed by Elon Musk.

Specifically, SpaceX needs the Air Force’s 45th Space Wing to oversee operations, and the government shutdown means key civilian employees of said wing are not available, which basically means the Space Wing can’t operate. This is crucial, as a big part of the Air Force unit’s job is making sure that people involved in launch operations are safe during missions.

SpaceX had hoped to run a test launch of its Falcon Heavy — the first ever for the massive, high-capacity rocket — sometime this January, but that looks increasingly unlikely as it still needs to perform a static test fire (which also requires Space Wing support) prior to even attempting to get off the ground. Meanwhile, SpaceX has a launch scheduled at the Cape for clients including the U.S. government via the ISS that might be impacted, as well, depending on how long the shutdown lasts.

A bill set for a Senate vote later today could temporarily resume government operations, however, so SpaceX might not be that delayed by external factors after all. In any case, you can bet all involved are hoping for a speedy recover so SpaceX can move forward with ensuring its next-gen rocket is ready to roll.