SpaceX is continuing to sort through thousands of channels of data in regard to its September 1 accident, which led to the loss of its Falcon 9 rocket and its Amos-6 satellite during preparations for a static fire test. The company has nonetheless begun working toward an ambitious November return to flight for its rocket.
“We’re anticipating getting back to flight — being down for about three months — and getting back to flight in the November time frame,” Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said Tuesday at an event in Paris. “We’ll obviously take another look at the rocket, focus on the ground systems.”
Shotwell’s appearance marked her first public remarks since the company lost the Falcon 9 rocket in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The blast also incinerated an Israeli telecommunications satellite that Facebook Inc. had planned to use to improve internet service in Africa.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is still trying to determine the cause of the mishap, Shotwell said. The rocket maker’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, said last week that the incident was “the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years.”
The ignition source for the blast wasn’t readily apparent and the spacecraft was idle at the time of the accident, Musk wrote in a tweet Friday. He also asked for any recordings of the event to be e-mailed to the Hawthorne, California-based company. The fireball that destroyed the rocket occurred minutes before a scheduled pre-launch engine test.
Before the mishap, SpaceX had conducted eight missions this year. It previously said it was targeting 18 launches in 2016.
The first test flight of SpaceX’s largest rocket, the Falcon Heavy, is more likely early next year as the probe of this month’s accident continues, Shotwell said. The company had targeted a November launch for the Falcon Heavy.