SpaceX has endured a difficult 2016, but the company has just made a major announcement about their future.
It hasn’t been the prettiest year for SpaceX, but Elon Musk’s brainchild plans to end it on a high note. SpaceX plans to launch a Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 16, according to a statement from Iridium Communications Inc., which will be putting 10 of its satellites on the rocket.
SpaceX had to shut down flights after a rocket blew up on the launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla., back on Sept. 1 during fueling. After months of wrangling with the complex problem, engineers finally narrowed the cause down to a pressurized container of helium inside of the upper stage of the rocket.
It was an expensive failure, destroying a $200 million satellite owned by Israel’s Space Communication Ltd. But SpaceX says they now understand the problem, and Iridium says they are confident the fueling process will go smoother. And anyway, their satellites won’t be on board the rocket during the prelaunch engine firing.
“We’re excited to launch the first batch of our new satellite constellation. We have remained confident in SpaceX’s ability as a launch partner throughout the Falcon 9 investigation,” said Matt Desch, chief executive officer at Iridium. “We are grateful for their transparency and hard work to plan for their return to flight. We are looking forward to the inaugural launch of Iridium NEXT, and what will begin a new chapter in our history.”
“We are looking forward to return to flight with the first Iridium NEXT launch,” said Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX. “Iridium has been a great partner for nearly a decade, and we appreciate their working with us to put their first 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit.”