SpaceX rocket aiming to fly again next week after accident

SpaceX rocket aiming to fly again next week after accident

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – Privately-owned Space Exploration Technologies is aiming to return its repaired Falcon 9 rocket to flight next week, following a launch accident six months ago, the company said on Thursday.

For its mission on Dec. 19, the California-based SpaceX plans to launch 11 small commercial communications satellites for ORBCOMM Inc, which provides machine-to-machine messaging services, such as between retailers & shipping containers.

p> SpaceX, which has a backlog of 60 missions worth approximately $8 billion, has been grounded since June 28 when its 19th Falcon 9 rocket exploded minutes after launch.

Investigators traced the problem to a faulty support beam that held a bottle of helium inside the rocket's second stage liquid oxygen tank.

The rocket exploded over the Atlantic Ocean, destroying a load of cargo heading to the International Space Station for NASA.

SpaceX says it switched to a new supplier for the steel struts, several hundred of which are used in the rockets, & upgraded its testing program.

The next Falcon 9 rocket moreover incorporates several previously planned upgrades, including a more powerful first-stage engine & a beefed up landing system. SpaceX has been working to return its first-stage boosters back to Earth intact so they can be refurbished & reflown, potentially slashing launch costs.

Previous attempts to land the rockets on a platform in the ocean have not been successful. SpaceX has built a landing pad near its Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch site & may attempt a touchdown on land on its next mission.

(Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Curtis Skinner & Alistair Bell)

ScienceSpace & AstronomySpace Exploration TechnologiesFalcon 9 rocket

Source: “Reuters”

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