SpaceX were expected to fly again on December the 16th, but they’ve pushed back the date to January in order to minimize risk.
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Elon Musk has said the investigation into the September explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket is almost finalized and the findings would soon be released. Musk had hoped to return to the skies this month as their backlog of delayed launches grows. Musk declared that the new date allows for the highest possible safety levels to be achieved and maximizes the chances of success. He knows that another accident like the one that destroyed an Israeli commercial communications satellite back in September would be disastrous.
In order to make a launch on December the 16th, Federal Aviation Administration approval would have had to have been obtained, but some think the FAA didn’t want another rocket accident on their hands. They were also well aware that a Russian ship en route to the International Space Station broke apart after technical difficulties. No official word from the FAA has been given yet, so the claims cannot be verified.
Whilst many have speculated as to the cause of the explosion, no official cause has been revealed. Musk has teased that the issue is extremely unique:
“It’s never been encountered before in the history of rocketry.”
Whilst nothing is yet public knowledge, the investigators looking into the incident have concentrated on the 3 composite-overwrapped pressure vessels that store helium in the second stage tank. They recreated the disaster in test mode in October and pinpointed the helium loading conditions as a possible cause.
SpaceX have a long list of customers but their next launch will be for Iridium Communications Inc. who plans to launch 10 satellites on a Falcon 9. Iridium stated publicly that they agreed with the decision to push back the date in order to minimize risk.
“We remain as confident as ever in their ability to safely deliver our satellites into low Earth orbit,” Iridium said.
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