There was a catastrophic rocket explosion on SpaceX’s home launch pad not too long ago during a point in time when the rocket’s engines weren’t even running yet, and there was no clear sign as to what may have caused it.
Despite how difficult it was proving to unravel the mystery of what caused it, preliminary reports from the space agency’s investigative efforts, which involved multiple other organizations like NASA and the United States Air Force, have revealed that it may have been an issue with the fuel tanks during fueling, as the fuel probably reacted with the material in the tanks.
Image Credit: SpaceX
Regardless of what might have caused it, the one thing on SpaceX’s mind right now is getting back up and running. It might be a while, up to a year, before SpaceX gets to send another rocket on its moderately-damaged home launch pad, but that won’t stop the commercial space company from borrowing another one.
You may remember that SpaceX wanted to borrow one of the United States Air Force’s launch pads; one located in the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
If approved as expected by the Federal Aviation Administration, the event would have taken place already on December 16th, but some delays have pushed plans back a little while longer. Now, SpaceX estimates that their next Falcon 9 rocket launch will take place in January instead.
Although this pushes back a lot of future plans until 2018, the move is still a lot better than having to wait 12 months for the company’s own launch pad to be repaired.
Most of the wait comes the fact that SpaceX is required to go through the testing stages of their Falcon 9 rocket once again to ensure their space vehicle is safe for liftoff. The last thing the United States government wants to see is another SpaceX rocket exploding for no apparent reason.
These kinds of anomalies are even more scary when you start to think that a Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rocket may one day carry astronauts to space, whether it’s to the International Space Station, or to another planet like Mars.
Since the January ETA only leaves SpaceX with no more than a month to test their rocket for safety and prepare it for liftoff, the estimate may be a little bit over-hopeful, but it shouldn’t be too long before SpaceX gets to launch another rocket.
Hopefully the commercial space company can get its own launch pad completed as they wait.