SpaceX shuffles deck, EchoStar launch bumped

Kennedy pad needs more prep, Elon's next flight will be to ISS

SpaceX's spectacular explosion last September is still producing fallout, with the company deciding its EchoStar launch will have to wait, while it prepares its new launchpad.

That means its next launch will be a milk run from the Kennedy Space Centre, currently scheduled for February 15. A supply run to the International Space Station (ISS) is more time-critical than a comms satellite launch.

SpaceX's Cape Canaveral launch facility was extensively damaged when a Falcon 9 rocket exploded during pre-launch. The explosion was later traced to helium being loaded at too low a temperature, causing a pressure vessel to buckle and sparking the launcher's liquid oxygen with explosive results.

Since that incident the company has been working to get Kennedy Pad 39A ready for launches but it missed its EchoStar window. The first launch from the pad will therefore be its next ISS supply run.

The revised launch date clears some extra time to verify the ground systems at Pad 39A, the company told Florida Today.

EchoStar – already delayed from last year – will be put back on the schedule for late February. ®

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