SpaceX to resume space launches after mysterious, spectacular rocket explosion

The company is being 'extra cautious'

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 03 January 2017 11:45
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Video shows billowing smoke as SpaceX rocket explodes on launch pad

SpaceX is about to start launching rockets again after finding the cause of a strange and controversial explosion in Florida.

The company hasn’t sent up any rockets since one of them spectacularly and mysteriously exploded on its launchpad later last year.

The event was met with widespread confusion and even suggestions that it might have been deliberately interfered with or attacked.

But the company said its investigation of the 1 September explosion found that a tank failed within the larger, second-stage liquid oxygen tank.

SpaceX plans to launch 10 satellites for Iridium Communications Inc. on a Falcon 9 rocket. The satellites will be used to provide mobile communications on land, sea and air.

Iridium says it in a tweet that it is pleased with the SpaceX's announcement and target launch date.

SpaceX had said it expected to return to flight as soon as November. But that anticipated launch date slipped back to December, and then January.

"Clearly, they're being extra cautious," said Marco Caceres, senior space analyst for the Teal Group. "SpaceX usually pushes ahead a lot faster. So it seems like they're not rushing ahead at this point, which is a good thing."

The explosion at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station destroyed a satellite that was to be managed by Israeli satellite operator Spacecom and was also to help Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg bring high-speed internet access to remote parts of Africa.

SpaceX said Monday that it pored through 3,000 channels of video and telemetry data that spanned just 93 milliseconds from the first sign of trouble to the explosion.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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