Repaired SpaceX Rocket Ready to Launch Sooner than Expected
October 26, 2015 Leave a comment
Speaking from the International Astronomical Congress on October 13th, Lee Rosen, vice president of mission and launch operations for SpaceX, said that the company plans to have their repaired and upgraded Falcon 9 rocket ready to launch by early December. This comes less than six months after the Falcon 9 exploded in atmosphere, minutes after launching on a mission to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.
That explosion was caused by a faulty strut, which was intended to hold a bottle of high pressured helium. When the strut broke, the bottle was released which over pressurized the engine and led to the explosion. SpaceX has since revised their process for building the struts, and has repaired the rocket.
The Falcon 9 rocket had flown 18 successful missions in a row before the explosion, and will return to service soon, but with some upgrades. SpaceX is working toward a new design that will allow them to land the first-stage rocket, the part used in the launch and then jettisoned in atmosphere, on a floating platform. This will allow them to more easily retrieve that rocket and refit it for further use. By making the rockets more readily reusable, they’ll cut down on a number of costs. Such improvements will probably be safer as well, since not building new first-stage rockets means once they have parts that work they can keep them in shape instead of risking new parts being faulty.
SpaceX is also planning on competing for their first military contract soon, before the Falcon 9 sees it’s next launch. Although they still have to win any contracts from the military, they were approved some time ago to bid on those contracts, much to the chagrin of United Launch Alliance, who holds a virtual monopoly on military launches.