SpaceX hasn’t had a launch since one of its Falcon 9 rockets exploded on a launch pad during pre-flight checks in September, but it’s hoping to resume activities with a December 16 mission for client Iridium Communications.
The proposed launch was announced by Iridium on Thursday, and still requires Federal Aviation Administration clearance before it gets a full green light. Iridium provided a statement to Reuters that for its part, it’s now confident SpaceX understands well what led to the September accident, and will not repeat the same error in the fueling process found to be responsible for its own mission.
SpaceX confirmed to TechCrunch that Iridium’s proposed launch and timing information are accurate, but the space company still has not provided a full explanation of the cause behind the explosion publicly yet. In November, SapceX CEO Elon Musk told CNBC that the company believes it’s “gotten to the bottom of the problem,” citing evidence that the “oxygen was so cold it got to a solid state” when it came into contact with other key compounds involved in the fueling process.
While it’s been grounded for only a few months, SpaceX has an aggressive launch schedule. One of its core competitive values as a launch provider is being able to do so at a steady clip, as well as at a very low cost relative to competitors. If approved, a resumption of flight activities will help with potential client confidence.
SpaceX got another vote of confidence late in November, as NASA announced it had selected the young space company as the launch provider for an upcoming mission in 2021 to do the first-ever comprehensive survey of Earth’s surface water.