The explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket during a routine test firing on Sept. 1 could create a “ripple effect” across both the space and telecom industries, space experts warned.
The incident could impact the planned acquisition of a satellite operator, delay crucial communication satellite launches and disrupt cargo deliveries to the International Space Station (ISS).
“No doubt SpaceX will fix the problems, but if you’re a customer time is money,” Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University and a former NASA administrator, said in a report by The New York Times. “This will get customers looking at alternatives. It may give competitors an opening and slow down SpaceX.”
SpaceX’s standard pre-launch preparations for Falcon 9 flights included static fire tests, which were done in the rocket’s launch pad at Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The test was conducted prior to the Sept. 3 launch of the Amos-6 communications satellite, which was commissioned by social media behemoth Facebook as part of its initiative to provide Internet connectivity to hard-to-reach areas in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Amos-6 payload, which was made by the Israeli company Spacecom, was destroyed during the explosion, and the incident could endanger the acquisition of Spacecom by the Chinese conglomerate Beijing Xinwei Technology Group. The deal was pending on the successful launch of the Amos-6 satellite, The New York Times reports.
The explosion has also caused a downtime for the Falcon 9, which delayed the launches of communications satellites that support international mobile phone and digital television services. It affected launch contracts with Iridium Communications, Luxembourg-based SES, EchoStar and KT Corporation from South Korea.
Moreover, the extended delay could possibly affect NASA’s plan to launch manned spaceflights aboard the SpaceX rocket and the launch of military and national security satellites for the Department of Defense.
SpaceX, a private space launch company owned by entrepreneur and billionaire Elon Musk, has aggressive launch plans this 2016, and hopes to launch 18 rockets this year. The Amos-6 satellite launch would have been the SpaceX’s ninth this year. The company has 27 successful launches of Falcon 9 rockets so far.
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from Department of Private Space Inc.