Sci-Tech

SpaceX to resume rocket launches this month

Elon Musk's space company is ready to move beyond a rocket explosion that has left it grounded since September.

SpaceX

SpaceX is ready to resume liftoffs after finishing its investigation into the spectacular explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket in September.

The company plans to launch a Falcon 9 rocket on January 8 from Vandenberg Air Force Base outside of Los Angeles, boosting 10 Iridium Next communications satellites into orbit. The launch date, though, is contingent upon Federal Aviation Administration approval, according to satellite manufacturer Iridium.

The agency said it's reviewing SpaceX's investigation report but hasn't yet issued a license for a launch in January.

"The FAA has received the mishap investigation report from SpaceX and it is under review," said an FAA spokeswoman in an emailed statement. "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."

SpaceX didn't respond to a request for comment.

SpaceX launches have been suspended since September 1, after a prelaunch test at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida failed in a massive explosion. The rocket and its $195 million payload were destroyed, causing heavy damage to Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral.

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SpaceX has been investigating the rocket failure with several federal agencies and believes the explosion was triggered by a problem in the Falcon 9's fueling system.

The investigation team "identified several credible causes" for the system failure, SpaceX said in an update posted to its site Monday, and the company said it has put fixes in place to "address all credible causes and focus on changes which avoid the conditions that led to these credible causes."

It's unclear when SpaceX plans to resume launches in Cape Canaveral. Instead, the company reportedly plans to repurpose a space shuttle launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center for its next Falcon 9 flight from Florida. The first SpaceX launch from Kennedy will be a commercial mission, CBS News reported, with a delivery to the International Space Station expected to come sometime after that commercial launch.

First published January 2, 12:04 p.m. PT.
Updated January 3 at 9:40 a.m.: Added statement from the FAA.