SpaceX Dragon cargo ship returns to Earth
The Space Exploration Technologies rocket launch has been postponed until at least Monday, one day later than initially planned.
While officials announced at the start of week their plans to aim for a 10:28 a.m. Sunday departure, notices warning boaters and pilots of an upcoming launch now say the mission is targeting Monday, Jan. 9.
The one-day delay means the launch time is expected to be a few minutes earlier to ensure the satellites are placed where needed in space.
As a precaution before each launch, Vandenberg sends out notices to mariners and pilots about areas to avoid due to a rocket launch or missile test from the base.
The one-day slip comes as SpaceX crews attempt to conduct a countdown rehearsal and engine test firing at Vandenberg.
During the test, the engines will ignite before turning off seconds later, while the rocket remains anchored to the launch pad.
That test reportedly was planned for Tuesday, according to employee posts on Internet forums, but had not occurred.
During a similar test Sept. 1 in Florida, a flaw in the design led to an explosion of the rocket that destroyed its payload.
Since then, engineers have been sifting through data to pinpoint the likely cause of this mishap.
On Jan. 2, officials announced the results of the failure review, short- and long-term fixes and the planned Sunday launch attempt, although the mission still needs Federal Aviation Administration approval.
“The FAA has received the mishap investigation report from SpaceX and it is under review,” Hank Price, spokesman for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, said Wednesday. “The FAA continues to work closely with SpaceX as they conduct the investigation and prepare for future Falcon 9 launches, in compliance with all applicable regulations and license requirements.
“The FAA has not yet issued a license to SpaceX for a launch in January,” Price added.
The Falcon rocket will carry 10 Iridium Next satellites, the first set for a second-generation constellation of craft for the satellite-phone system.