Saturday, January 7, 2017


(Although SpaceX first said it would begin commercial payload satellite launches in 2013, the company has not made any launch attempts at the Boca Chica Beach site and has not built its pad or vertical launch facilities yet. It has been busy trying to clear glitches of its Falcon 9 rocket, the same type that owner Elon Musk said would someday launch rockets from here. Below, an update on the company's troubles in California.)

By James Dean
Florida Today
SpaceX has been cleared to attempt a Monday launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from California, the company's first in nearly five months.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday confirmed it has accepted the findings of SpaceX's investigation into an explosion that destroyed a rocket and commercial satellite during a Sept. 1 countdown test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and has issued SpaceX a license for the return-to-flight mission.

A Falcon 9 carrying 10 Iridium Communications satellites is targeting liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 1:22 p.m. Eastern Time (10:22 a.m. local time), during an instantaneous window.

But the weather forecast is iffy, with rain expected.

On Thursday, SpaceX fueled the rocket and briefly fired the rocket's nine main engines — successfully completing the same type of pre-launch test that was in progress when the September explosion occurred.

“With completion of the static fire test, our first launch has just gotten that much closer,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch, in a statement Friday. “The Iridium team has been anxiously awaiting launch day, and we’re now all the more excited to send those first ten Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit.”

The satellites are the first of 70 that SpaceX is contracted to launch for Iridium.

SpaceX on Jan. 2 announced its four-month investigation concluded that the explosion "likely" resulted from buckling in tanks that store gaseous helium, which is used to pressurize propellant tanks.

Super-chilled liquid oxygen pooled in the buckles between the lining and a composite carbon overwrap covering the tanks, causing friction or breaking carbon fibers that ignited the oxygen.

The company said it would reconfigure its helium tanks and load the gas at a warmer temperature. Longer-term, the tanks will be redesigned.

The FAA, NASA, Air Force and National Transportation Safety Board assisted the investigation.
If the next flight goes well, SpaceX hopes to perform its first launch from Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A as soon as Jan. 26, launching a commercial communications satellite. Nearby Launch Complex 40 remains out of commission after the September accident.

That could be followed as soon as Feb. 8 with a launch of cargo to the International Space Station. NASA is conducting its own investigation into SpaceX's accident and expects to review findings with the company this month.

For rest of launch report, click on link below:

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