Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp will fly its next mission from the Florida complex damaged in a September 2016 blast involving one of its rockets, signaling the site is back in operation and paving the way for a faster launch cadence.
The pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which had been out of commission since a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded there 15 months ago, is scheduled to resume launches on December 12 with the CRS-13 International Space Station resupply mission for NASA. SpaceX completed a static fire test for the mission on the refurbished pad Wednesday and will use it again in early January for its classified Zuma mission, the company said in a Tweet.
While Space Launch Complex 40 was being repaired, SpaceX moved its Falcon 9 launches to the historic 39A pad at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where Neil Armstrong left from before landing on the moon in 1969. Now that the pad is fixed, SpaceX can resume launching its smaller Falcon 9 there while preparing Pad 39A for the upcoming maiden flight of its larger Falcon Heavy rocket. SpaceX also uses a launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The closely held company, based in Hawthorne, California, has already flown 16 missions in 2017, double its number in 2016, and it’s targeting about 30 next year. CRS-13 will use both a pre-flown rocket booster and a reused spacecraft, the company said in a separate Tweet.