The failure of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in a post-launch explosion on June 28 has prompted the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company to postpone its next mission.
SpaceX had been scheduled to launch a Falcon 9 on Aug. 8 to deliver a weather satellite into orbit for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Spokesman Phil Larson said June 29 the mission has been postponed.
The Jason-3 weather satellite would be used to track hurricanes and any related rise in sea levels. The weather agency will work with NASA to set a new date for the launch.
An investigation continued into the cause of the SpaceX blast, which came just two minutes after SpaceX’s high-profile launch of a rocket bearing a resupply cargo capsule for the International Space Station. Delay of the weather satellite launch underscores the disruption to SpaceX operations from the failure of the ISS resupply mission.
SpaceX is expected to weather the storm, but its timing is especially poor. The company is currently competing for a new round of NASA cargo-delivery contracts against Orbital ATK Inc., an El Segundo, Calif.-based company with which it shared the first round of resupply funding.
Orbital suffered its own post-launch explosion in an Oct. 28 resupply mission, and a succession of such setbacks has caused a broad case of jitters among space-mission proponents and critics alike. Industry-watchers say NASA now may delay the awarding of new contracts beyond a planned September time frame.
Top image: Artist’s rendering of Jason-3 (NASA/JPL-Caltech)