SpaceX Delays Launch to January After Fireball Grounding
SpaceX plans to launch several Iridium communications satellites into space in early January, delaying its return to flight after a Sept.1 fireball destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket on a Florida launch pad.
SpaceX is completing the final stpes necessary to safely and reliably return to flight, according to a posting Wednesday on the company’s website. Iridium had said in a Dec. 1 statement that the launch would be Dec. 16, contingent on U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval of SpaceX resuming flights.
The FAA hasn’t granted SpaceX a permit for the launch or signed off on the company’s investigation of the expliosion, according to an e-mail from the agency. The FAA hasn’t commented on the findings of the investigation, for which it has oversight.
The closely held company led by Chief Executive Officer elon Musk suffered a setback when a balst during the Spet.1 Test firing of the rocket’s engines destroyed the Falcon 9 and Amos-6, an Israeli communications satellite, at Cape Cnaveral Air Force Station. No one was injured.
The exposion photos of which were splashed across front pages, was Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s second major mishap in little over a year. On June 28, 2015, a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon spacecraft with cargo destined for the International Space station blew aprt 2 minutes and 19 seconds after launch. The cause was determinded to be a two-foot-long, inch-thick strut in a liquid oxygen tank that snapped.
SpaceX returned to flight less than six months later. On Dec. 21, 2015, the company launced, then landed in Cape Canaveral, a Falcon 9 rocket for the first time. In April, SpaceX landed its Falcon 9 rocket upright on a drone ship bobbing in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time ever, a key milestone toward the company’s goal of reusing rockets and sending humans to Mars.
The Iridium NEXT constellation will rplace the world’s largest commerical satellite network of low-earth orbit satellites, Iridium Commnications Inc. has said.