SpaceX has postponed the return to flight for its Falcon 9 rocket until Jan. 14 at the earliest, due to a gloomy weather forecast for the next few days at its California launch site.
The launch of 10 Iridium Next telecommunications satellites had been scheduled for Monday from Vandenberg Air Force Base. But in a series of tweets, Iridium and SpaceX said the liftoff had to be put off due to a combination of windy, rainy weather and scheduling conflicts:
— Iridium Corporate (@IridiumComm) January 8, 2017
Launch moving due to high winds and rains at Vandenberg. Other range conflicts this week results in next available launch date being Jan 14.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 8, 2017
The Federal Aviation Administration gave its clearance for the launch on Friday, after accepting SpaceX’s report on last September’s failure of a Falcon 9 on its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
That rocket and its Amos-6 satellite payload were lost due to a spectacular explosion that occurred while SpaceX was conducting a launch rehearsal.
A months-long investigation determined that the blast was caused by the failure of a helium pressure vessel inside the rocket’s second-stage liquid oxygen propellant tank.
SpaceX says it has changed its helium loading procedure to address the issue in the short term, and will redesign the pressure vessels as a longer-term solution.
The company conducted a problem-free rehearsal for the Iridium launch on Thursday.
The delay has caused complications for SpaceX and its customers. It’s been five months since the most recent launch of a Falcon 9, and the scheduled payloads – including a cargo shipment to the International Space Station – are stacking up.