An update on SpaceX and CRS-10

 File photo of a Falcon 9 rocket. Photo Credit: Derek Richardson / Orbital Velocity

File photo of a Falcon 9 rocket. Photo Credit: Derek Richardson / Orbital Velocity

The Sept. 1 launch pad explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which destroyed the Amos-6 satellite perched atop, will likely affect the currently planned November 2016 launch of a SpaceX Dragon capsule.

The mission, CRS-10, was tentatively scheduled for a Nov. 11 launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. However, in addition to an investigation that could take months, repairs must also be made to SLC-40.

Video courtesy of US Launch Report

In a statement made by NASA on the day of the incident, the U.S. space agency reiterated their confidence in SpaceX.

"Today's SpaceX incident – while it was not a NASA launch – is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but our partners learn from each success and setback," the agency's statement read. "The situation at the Cape is being evaluated, and it's too early to know whether the incident will affect the schedule for upcoming NASA-related SpaceX launches to the International Space Station."

NASA did say, however, if there are any delays, other cargo spacecraft will be able to meet the station's resupply needs. Supplies as well as research investigations are currently at good levels as well.

Regarding any repairs to SLC-40, SpaceX stated in an update on the company's website their launch pad farther up the coast at Kennedy Space Center, Launch Complex 39A, is on schedule to be ready by November and is more than capable to fulfill the NewSpace firm's manifest needs, including ISS resupply missions.

So, pending the length of the investigation into the cause of the explosion, the next SpaceX launch, commercial or NASA, could be out of the former space shuttle launch pad of which the company currently holds a 20-year lease.

SpaceX was also hoping to begin their first Crew Dragon test flights in the middle of next year (2017). However, that is also in question and will depend on the length of time the Falcon 9 rocket is grounded.

It was hoped the company would send the first unpiloted Crew Dragon to space as early as May 2017 before sending one to the International Space Station with people in late-summer 2017.

Earlier this year, Boeing, the other company in NASA's Commercial Crew Program, announced a delay of their own into early 2018. The company's CST-100 Starliner had experienced technical difficulties relating to the spacecraft's weight.

The two company's are both contracted to send at least two crews to the ISS after they complete test flights on their respective capsules.

 

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Derek Richardson

I am a space geek who loves to write about space.

My passion for space ignited when I watched space shuttle Discovery leap to space on October 29, 1998. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, I soon realized that my true calling was communicating to others about space exploration and spreading that passion.

Currently, I am a senior at Washburn University studying Mass Media with an emphasis in contemporary journalism. In addition to running Orbital Velocity, I write for the Washburn Review and am the Managing Editor for SpaceFlight Insider.