After an anomalous explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in September of 2016, SpaceX was barred from launching rockets until further investigation into the causes by the Accident Investigation Team (AIT) could be completed.
Image Credit: SpaceX
This elite investigation team consisted of members of SpaceX, AIF, NASA, NTSB, USAF, and more. The investigation turned up a problem with the rocket’s fuel tank system, which essentially caused a chemical reaction inside to increase friction between the highly-combustible fuel chemicals.
Now that the investigation has finally come to a close, SpaceX now has the green light from the United States government to launch rockets again, and the next launch was slated for Sunday… but as you can probably tell, it didn’t happen as scheduled.
Since SpaceX can’t use its damaged rocket launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida until it’s repaired from the explosion, they have to rent other launch pads instead. They’re now using the Vandenberg Space Launch Complex 4E in California, and it just so happens weather there wasn’t the greatest the last few days.
Having been delayed by high winds and rain in Vandenberg, SpaceX has announced via its Twitter account plans to reschedule the launch for January 14th, which is this coming Saturday. The launch site will be the same.
Launch moving due to high winds and rains at Vandenberg. Other range conflicts this week results in next available launch date being Jan 14.— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 8, 2017
SpaceX will be attempting to send another member of the Iridium NEXT system, a global communications satellite, into space. This satellite will enhance the Iridium communications system, a state-of-the-art system with a clear goal of enhancing our internet communications here on Earth:
Because SpaceX was made aware of its likely fail-point in the Falcon 9 rocket last time, they’ve made changes to the fueling system and its shortcomings to help ensure such an explosion doesn’t happen again. That said, while Facebook may have lost their expensive satellite in the previous explosion, Iridium hopefully will not suffer similar consequences this time around.
For SpaceX, this is an important launch, as the company's reputation depends on it. They haven't been space-bound since August of 2016, so it's been a while.