Source: RTF for Falcon 9 slips to Monday Jan. 9
The return to flight of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has slipped to no-earlier-than Monday, Jan. 9. This is according to a report appearing on NoozHawk. The report also revealed that while the NewSpace firm might be considering the date for launch, it has not received approval to do so from the FAA.
According to the NoozHawk article, Hank Price, spokesman for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, stated: “The FAA has not yet issued a license to SpaceX for a launch in January.”
SpaceX has been trying to return its Falcon 9 rocket to service since Sept. 1, 2016, when an F9 encountered an anomaly while sitting on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida. At that time, it was under the process of being fueled in preparation for a static test fire of the nine Merlin 1D engines in the rocket’s first stage.
The accident saw the rocket erupt in a fireball that destroyed both the rocket and the precious cargo that it carried. That payload was Spacecom’s $195 million AMOS-6 satellite.
Since then, SpaceX has worked with the U.S. Air Force, FAA, NASA and others to determine the cause of the accident.
On Monday, Jan. 2, SpaceX announced – contrary to the assertions of conspiracy buffs – attack drones, snipers, and UFOs were not to blame. Rather, the rocket was lost because the composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) used to store cold helium inside the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage failed after super-cooled liquid oxygen (LOX) became trapped in the carbon composite overwrap.
The return-to-flight mission for the Falcon 9 is currently the launch of the Iridium Communications NEXT 1-10 satellite constellation. The flight is slated to take place from Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex 4E (East) in California. This will be the third time a Falcon 9 has been launched from SpaceX’s launch site in California.
UPDATE: At 4:40 p.m. EST on Jan. 5, 2017, Elon Musk tweeted: “Hold-down firing of
@SpaceX Falcon 9 at Vandenberg Air Force completed. All systems are go for launch next week.”
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.