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January 30th, 2017

SpaceX Shuffles Schedule...Working on New Launch Pad for a February Launch

An aerial view of the Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. In the background is NASA Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building. (Photo Credit: NASA)

SpaceX has been busy since the September 1 explosion during a pre-flight test at the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station that destroyed a Falcon 9 booster and its communications satellite payload. The company hasn't provided any details about the extent of the damage to the Air Force launch complex.

What is known is that a large hanger has been built at the base of the pad to house rockets and satellites being prepared for launch. The boosters, mounted horizontally on a mobile transporter, are transported to the top of the elevated pad and rotated vertically for launch using a powerful hydraulic system and the technicians and engineers are raising to vertical and then rotating back to horizontal multiple times over the past several days.

The next flight of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is planned for mid February in order for the company to complete extensive modifications and testing of new launch pad systems and support equipment that will take place on the repurposed shuttle pad at the Kennedy Space Center.

At first SpaceX had been planning to launch an EchoStar communications satellite from complex 39A at the Florida spaceport as early as this week but they have since changed that plan and will launch EchoStar after the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship takes supplies to the International Space Station which will be the tenth commercial resupply mission launched to the station by SpaceX and the company’s first launch from Florida since the September 1 explosion. SpaceX announced this week that “its first launch from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will be the CRS-10 mission to the International Space Station.”