SpaceX set to launch again Monday
SpaceX plans to resume flights of its Falcon 9 rocket on Monday, after pinning down the cause of a launchpad explosion that destroyed a satellite in September, a spokesman said.
The California-based private space firm is expected to launch 10 Iridium NEXT communications satellites from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Iridium said Friday on its website that a static test fire of the Falcon 9 had been completed and the rocket would be ready for next week's launch scheduled for 1822 GMT, weather permitting.
An unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded September 1 in Cape Canaveral, destroying a satellite that Facebook planned to use to beam high-speed internet to Africa.
That marked a setback for the company and its founder Elon Musk, who wants to revolutionize the launch industry by making rocket components reusable.
In a statement earlier this week, SpaceX said it had traced the problem to a pressure vessel in the second-stage liquid oxygen tank. It said it will change the way it fuels for now, and in the future will redesign its pressure vessels.
That accident—the second of its kind since SpaceX was founded in 2002—came just over a year after a Falcon 9 rocket failed after liftoff on June 28, 2015, destroying a Dragon cargo capsule bound for the International Space Station.
Before that, SpaceX had logged 18 successful launches of the Falcon 9—including six of 12 planned supply missions to the ISS carried out as part of a $1.6 billion contract with NASA.
SpaceX had hoped to resume Falcon 9 flights as early as November, then in mid-December, before pushing the date to January.
© 2017 AFP