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SpaceX Gears Up to Resume Rocket Launches After Summer Explosion

Illustration for article titled SpaceX Gears Up to Resume Rocket Launches After Summer Explosion

SpaceX is getting back on the launchpad after their rocket explosion in June. The first payload is a constellation of eleven miniature relay satellites that will launch in late 2015.

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The new order switches the launch order from the pre-mishap schedule. Originally, the next launch on SpaceX’s docket was SES 9 television broadcasting spacecraft that required a relight of the second-stage engine to reach a higher orbit. Instead, the Orbcomm 2 mission will launch instead, using a simpler flight pattern that will deliver a constellation of tiny machine-to-machine data relay satellites into a lower orbit. In a statement from SpaceX, the company explained:

“The Orbcomm 2 mission does not require a relight of the second stage engine following orbital insertion. Flying the Orbcomm 2 mission first will therefore allow SpaceX to conduct an on-orbit test of the second stage relight system after the Orbcomm 2 satellites have been safely deployed.

This on-orbit test, combined with the current qualification program to be completed prior to launch, will further validate the second stage relight system and allow for optimization of the upcoming SES 9 mission and following missions to geosynchronous transfer orbit.”

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This will be the first launch since a SpaceX cargo run went critically awry when a strut brace broke on June 28, 2015. The payload is on-target to launch in six to eight weeks, with a currently-unspecified launch window likely in late November or early December.

The launch will be using a newly-modified design for the Falcon 9 rocket that was already in testing before the rapid unscheduled disassembly in June. The bulked-up rocket will be able to boost larger payloads into orbit while still preserving enough fuel for barge landing attempts. SpaceX released test footage of the new rocket in a static fire test with densified fuel in September.

[Spaceflight Now]

Top image: Orbcomm 2 payload. Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation


Contact the author at mika.mckinnon@io9.com or follow her at @MikaMcKinnon.

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DISCUSSION

Dr Emilio Lizardo

...rapid unscheduled disassembly...

This is a good euphimism.