SpaceX targeting a November launch for its Falcon 9 rocket

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2016-09-18

Enlarge / A Falcon 9 rocket launches earlier this year. (credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX is continuing to sort through thousands of channels of data in regard to its September 1 accident, which led to the loss of its Falcon 9 rocket and its Amos-6 satellite during preparations for a static fire test. The company has nonetheless begun working toward an ambitious November return to flight for its rocket.

During a speech Tuesday in Paris, at the World Satellite Business Week meeting, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the company "anticipates" a return to flight as early as November, most likely from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Details of the speech were first reported in a series of tweets by Peter B. de Selding, Paris bureau chief for Space News. A SpaceX official confirmed the validity of the information to Ars.

SpaceX's Launch Complex 40 sustained significant damage during the static fire incident, and it may take as long as a year for repairs to be completed. So a November launch in Florida would occur from the company's Launch Complex 39A, a historical site the company has been modifying after leasing it from NASA in 2014. The company had intended to use the refurbished launch pad primarily for commercial crew missions and its Falcon Heavy rocket. Shotwell also said the return to flight mission could take place at Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base but seemed more confident in a launch from Florida. Both pads will be ready by November, she said, and the location will depend on the customer—as yet undetermined—for the mission.

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