SpaceX plans to resume flights as early as next week after finding the cause of an explosion which destroyed a rocket and a satellite on a Florida launch pad in September.
The Hawthorne, a California-based company, is aiming for a Sunday (January 8) flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launch, however, still needs approval by the federal aviation administration.
The company said its investigation of the September 1 explosion found that a tank failed within the larger, second-stage liquid oxygen tank.
- The blast on September 1, 2016 came as the unmanned Falcon 9 rocket was being fuelled ahead of a standard, pre-launch test in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
- SpaceX had been due to carry into orbit the AMOS-6 communications satellite owned by Israel’s Space Communication .
- The satellite was also to help Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg bring high-speed internet access to remote parts of Africa.
- SpaceX now plans to launch 10 satellites for Iridium Communications Inc.
SpaceX plans to launch 10 satellites for Iridium Communications Inc on a Falcon 9 rocket. The satellites will be used to provide mobile communications on land, sea and air.
Iridium in a tweet said it was pleased with the SpaceX’s announcement and the target launch date.
SpaceX had said it expected to return to flight as soon as November. But the anticipated launch date slipped back to December, and then January.
“Clearly, they are being extra cautious,” said Marco Caceres, senior space analyst for the Teal Group. “SpaceX usually pushes ahead a lot faster. So it seems like they are not rushing ahead at this point, which is a good thing.”
The explosion at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station destroyed a satellite that was to be managed by Israeli satellite operator Spacecom and was also to help Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg bring high-speed internet access to remote parts of Africa.
SpaceX on Monday said it poured through 3,000 channels of video and telemetry data which spanned just 93 milliseconds from the first sign of trouble to the explosion.