SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket may return to flight in early January

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket may return to flight in early January

Elon Musk-led SpaceX expects its Falcon 9 rockets to return to flight in early January, which would mark the company's first space mission since a Sept. 1 explosion during a test flight grounded the fleet.

Last month, Mr. Musk had said that SpaceX could return-to-flight mission by the mid of December, with a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 satellites for the communications firm Iridium. Iridium officials also said that the highly anticipated launch might occur on Dec. 16, 2016.

But, the company announced on Wednesday that it needs a bit more time to get everything perfectly ready to move ahead with the return-to-flight mission.

The company said in a statement, "We are finalizing the investigation into our Sept. 1 anomaly and are working to complete the final steps necessary to safely and reliably return to flight, now in early January with the launch of Iridium-1. This allows for additional time to close out vehicle preparations and complete extended testing."

The Sept. 1 Falcon rocket explosion, which occurred during a routine test ahead of a planned launch of a communications satellite, destroyed both the rocket and the $200 million satellite.

It was not the first such setbacks for SpaceX. Earlier in June 2015, a Falcon 9 broke into pieces and collapsed back to the ground less than 3 minutes after lifting off from Cape Canaveral.

The must-awaited return-to-flight mission is now scheduled to take place from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.


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