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SpaceX Launch May Have Slipped To Monday

SpaceX Launch May Have Slipped To Monday

Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 with the payload of 10 identical next generation Iridium NEXT communications satellites had been slated for 10:22 am PST (1:22 pm EST), Jan. 9, 2017 from Space Launch Complex 4E on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

"The investigation team identified several credible causes for the COPV failure, all of which involve accumulation of super chilled LOX (liquid oxygen) or SOX (solid oxygen) in buckles under the overwrap".

On Thursday, SpaceX successfully completed the same kind of pre-launch test that was in progress when the September explosion occurred.

CEO Elon Musk tweeted that all systems were go for the scheduled Sunday launch, but the Federal Aviation Administration had not yet issued a license for the launch.

The FAA, which oversees commercial United States space launches, monitored SpaceX's investigation into why a Falcon 9 rocket burst into flames on a launch pad in Florida as it was being fuelled for a routine, prelaunch test on September 1. The launch will hoist seven Iridium satellites into orbit.

If there's a possible spanner in the works on the newly-confirmed Falcon 9 launch date, it may likely be inclement weather.

SpaceX has finally gained the license to launch rockets again. The delays in the Falcon 9 mission also meant delays in the replacement of Iridium's satellites.

The company believes the problem happens when the helium is pumped into too cold oxygen trapped in these pools and them turning the oxygen into a solid.

The explosion destroyed a satellite that was going to be managed by Israeli satellite operator Spacecom and was also to help Facebook bring high-speed Internet access to remote parts of Africa.

The FAA granted the license last week, the agency said in a statement Friday.

SpaceX says it has changed its helium loading procedure to address the issue in the short term, and will redesign the pressure vessels as a longer-term solution. Iridium operates a constellation of 66 satellites (plus spares) to provide mobile communications services similar to terrestrial cell phones, but using satellites instead of cell towers to relay the signals.

The launch is now scheduled for Monday, January 9.

Thales Alenia Space and Orbital ATK are manufacturing the 81 Iridium Next satellites in a plant in Gilbert, Arizona.

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