SpaceX has announced that its next rocket launch will not be in December as thought, but rather in early January. This flight will be SpaceX’s first attempt since the catastrophic explosion on September 1 that destroyed one of their launch pads.
In a short statement, SpaceX said they were using the additional time to prepare the vehicle and extend testing, to ensure the launch goes smoothly.
“We are finalizing the investigation into our September 1 anomaly and are working to complete the final steps necessary to safely and reliably return to flight, now in early January,” they said.
The launch will carry the Iridium-1 satellite for communications provider Iridium. They noted in their own statement that they supported SpaceX’s delay to January, having previously been the source of the rumors that the launch would be on December 16.
“We remain as confident as ever in their ability to safely deliver our satellites into low Earth orbit,” they said.
There remains one stumbling block, however, as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not yet given SpaceX permission to launch. SpaceX is still working out exactly what caused the explosion, and without knowing that, it might be tough to get approval.
“They have not completed their investigation and therefore they do not have an [FAA launch] license,” an FAA spokesperson told Wired, adding that it would take a “little while” to make sure everything was okay.
This means that a January launch date might be a little bit optimistic. But we’re sure one day soon they’ll get back to flying – and hopefully, it’ll be next month.