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Weather woes ground SpaceX flight, new launch planned for this weekend

The delay is due to high winds and rain near the launch site

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 3:06pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 3:16pm

SpaceX’s first rocket launch since August has been pushed back to January 14th, due to rain and heavy winds that are expected near the launch site in California over the next week.

Prior to the delay, SpaceX had been aiming to launch on tonight, after receiving a launch licensc from the Federal Aviation Administration. On Friday, the FAA announced it had accepted SpaceX’s explanation for what caused one of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets to explode on a Florida launch pad.

Iridium is excited to share we're planned to launch on Monday, Jan 9 at 10:22am PST weather permitting. https://t.co/wiHgvdD6lk #IridiumNEXT

SpaceX has been grounded since the accident, which occurred on the morning of September 1st. The Falcon 9 was being fuelled in preparation for a pre-flight test, when it exploded in a fireball, destroying both the rocket and the Amos 6 satellite it was supposed to carry into space.

The company has spent the past four months trying to figure out what caused the incident, coming to the conclusion that the failure began with helium pressure vessels located in the rocket’s upper oxygen tank. Liquid oxygen propellent is thought to have ignited after getting trapped in materials surrounding the helium vessels.

“The FAA accepted the investigation report on the Amos 6 mishap and has closed the investigation,” the FAA said. “SpaceX applied for a license to launch the Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The FAA has granted a license for that purpose.”

Now, SpaceX is looking to return to flight by launching 10 satellites for communications company Iridium, as part of the Iridium NEXT mission. The launch is slated to take place from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on January 14th, at 12:54PM ET. Following the flight, SpaceX will try to land the majority of its rocket on one of its drone ships in the Pacific Ocean.