Following a launch accident six months ago, the privately-owned Space Exploration Technologies is preparing for its patched up Falcon 9 rocket to return to flight next week, the company said Thursday.
Chief executive Elon Musk announced on Twitter Thursday that a rocket test-firing for next Wednesday in Florida, Associated Press reports.
Aiming for Falcon rocket static fire at Cape Canaveral on the 16th and launch about three days later
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 10, 2015
The California-based SpaceX is aiming to launch 11 small commercial communications satellites for ORBCOMM Inc. on Dec. 19. ORBCOMM provides machine-to-machine messaging services, such as communication between shipping containers and retailers, Reuters reported.
SpaceX has remained on the ground since June 28 when its 19th Falcon 9 rocket exploded immediately following its launch. Investigators said that a faulty support beam holding a bottle of helium inside the rocket’s second stage liquid oxygen tank was the problem.
The rocket exploded into several pieces above the Atlantic Ocean, destroying important cargo that was headed to the International Space Station for NASA.
SpaceX explained that it upgraded its testing program and switched its steel struts supplier (several hundred are used in the rockets).
The next Falcon 9 also has several other upgrades that were going to happen whether the 19th rocket crashed or not. Some include a new landing system and a more powerful first-stage engine.
SpaceX is working to get its first-stage boosters back to Earth intact so that they can be reflown and potentially cut launch costs, Reuters reported.
The companies past attempts to land the rockets on a platform in the ocean have failed. SpaceX build a landing pad near the site in which its rockets launch near Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and might attempt a touchdown on and on its upcoming mission.