Elon Musk-led space firm SpaceX has announced that it will continue launching its Falcon 9 rockets, despite the recent rocket explosion that badly damaged the company’s Cape Canaveral, Florida, launch pad.
The company said that it will use two other launch pads, in California and Florida, to continue to launch its Falcon 9 rockets. However, the California launch pad can be used only for certain types of space missions, while the second Florida launch pad is not fully ready to support launches right now.
Thus, the private-sector company will not be able to get back to its regular flight schedule anytime soon.
Making the announcement, the company added, “Our number one priority is to safely and reliably return to flight for our customers, as well as to take all the necessary steps to ensure the highest possible levels of safety for future crewed missions with the Falcon 9.”
Despite the availability of two other launch pads, the recent explosion is definitely going to significantly throw off the company’s launch schedule for the rest of this year. The damaged launch pad, located at the Cape, was used by the company for seven of its eight Falcon 9 rocket launches this year.
According to a report in Gizmodo News by Sophie Kleeman, “We are currently in the early process of reviewing approximately 3,000 channels of telemetry and video data covering a time period of just 35 to 55 milliseconds.” The investigation itself will involve oversight from the Federal Aviation Administration and will be carried out with the help of NASA, the Air Force, and “other industry experts.”
SpaceX also noted that, so far, investigators still haven’t figured out just how badly the explosion damaged its SLC-40 launchpad. “The pad clearly incurred damage,” the post said, “but the scope has yet to be fully determined.” Its other two launchpads in Florida and California weren’t affected by the explosion, and the company said it was “confident the two launch pads can support our return to flight and fulfill our upcoming manifest needs.”
SpaceX is within its legal rights to carry out the investigation itself, though the FAA will still be there to watch over things. This past June, following SpaceX’s investigation into its failed rocket launch a year earlier, NASA’s internal watchdog Paul Martin called out the federal agency’s decision to allow SpaceX to lead the primary investigation, saying it raised “questions about inherent conflicts of interest.”
A report published in the Reuters News said, SpaceX said on Friday it would shift Florida flights to a nearly completed second site after damage to its launch pad on Thursday from the explosion of a rocket belonging to the space services company run by Elon Musk.
The Federal Aviation Administration has sent seven people to Florida to supervise investigation of the disaster, said FAA spokesman Hank Price. The agency, which oversees U.S. commercial rocket launches, requires that SpaceX’s flights be suspended pending results of the probe.
Any sign of rocket malfunction could require changes throughout the SpaceX fleet. After a SpaceX rocket exploded in June 2015, the program was paused for six months while defective brackets were replaced in Falcon 9 launch vehicles.
from Department of Private Space Inc.