SpaceX Delays Rocket Missions Later Than Expected Following Explosion
September 11, 2015 Leave a comment
SpaceX has decided to delay their next rocket flight longer than expected. In June they launched a supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), which exploded in atmosphere after only a couple of minutes. The mission was unmanned so no lives were lost, but a lot of supplies were. While the astronauts and cosmonauts on the ISS didn’t get the supplies they were expecting, they had more than enough to hold them over till a later mission did make it.
The explosion was the result of a faulty strut, which held a helium tank involved in the second stage of the rocket’s flight. When that strut failed the rocket exploded. Since then, SpaceX has decided to test all such struts more carefully than they had. In the meantime, they were supposed to launch a ocean monitoring satellite for NASA, called Jason 3, early this month, but have instead pushed back that launch in order to ensure that their rockets are as safe as possible.
The Falcon 9 rocket that exploded had flown a number of missions without trouble, but that model is actually on its way out, as SpaceX is working on a modified Falcon 9 which is capable of landing at the launch pad, making repeat missions easier and cheaper to execute.
Currently, SpaceX has a backlog of 60 launches, with a total price tag of over $7 billion. Those launches include a number for NASA, as well as private corporations like Luxembourg’s SES SA who, like NASA, haven’t lost faith in SpaceX, despite the accident in June. The Air Force hasn’t lost faith in them either, and has cleared them to bid against United Launch Alliance, a joint operation of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, who until now had something of a monopoly on government launches.