Energy

Rain and Wind Ruin Elon Musk’s Plans To Return To Space

(REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

Billionaire CEO Elon Musk delayed plans to return to space Sunday due to rain and bad weather.

Musk’s company SpaceX planned to launch 10 small probes into orbit for satellite operator Iridium Sunday, which would have been the company’s first launch after an explosion in September grounded SpaceX for months. Rain and high winds could potentially disrupt the delicate calculations necessary to put a rocket into orbit.

“The FAA accepted the investigation report on the AMOS-6 mishap and has closed the investigation,” Hank Price, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), told Universe Today. “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.”

The company rescheduled the launch for Jan. 14 or 15. This is the first of seven planned SpaceX launches to put a total of 81 small satellites into orbit for Iridium. SpaceX plans to recover the rocket on a droneship at sea in the Pacific Ocean.

SpaceX officials claim the explosion was caused by a complex process that involved broken carbon fibers, causing super cold oxygen to catch fire and explode. An independent physicist’s explanation of SpaceX’s technobabble is that the company used a risky fueling process, which can cause an explosion due to changing temperatures caused by warmer than expected weather.

NASA’s Space Station Advisory Committee had serious concerns about the company’s safety standards, and suggested that SpaceX review its policies before the explosion. The committee has voiced its worry to NASA since at least 2015, and reiterated its concerns after the September explosion. The company appears to have declined reviewing its policies.

SpaceX rockets have previously exploded several times during landing attempts, which Musk called a “huge blow.”

The Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) estimated that SpaceX must spend $120 million to replace the lost rocket, factoring in future revenue from reusing the booster and the costs of repairing the launch pad. The company could also be hit with a $50 million lawsuit from the telecommunications company whose satellite was destroyed by the rocket explosion. SpaceX declined to tell Forbes if SFF estimates were accurate.

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