SpaceX, a private company known for affordable rocket launches and rockets that land on platforms at sea, announced it will resume launching rockets on Sunday, January 8, after a fiery explosion in September. It plans to send 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into Earth orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket. Already loaded into the spacecraft’s capsule, these satellites will be used to expand a wireless voice and data network. The launch is set to take place at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Investigation of SpaceX rocket explosion is now complete

At the conclusion of the investigation, SpaceX revealed the cause of the Falcon 9 rocket explosion that rocked Cape Canaveral in September.

One of three composite overwrapped pressure vessels in the second stage tank failed. The reason was a buckled liner that caused liquid oxygen to build up. The buildup of liquid oxygen, friction, and a spark led to an explosion that destroyed the rocket and caused severe damage at Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40.

SpaceX’s investigation scoured 93 milliseconds of video and telemetry data during the investigation. This is the amount of time between there were the first signs of trouble and when the second stage was lost during a test. The rocket explosion, which destroyed a satellite owned by Facebook, occurred on the ground. This provided investigators with ground-based video, debris, and umbilical data to review during analysis.

SpaceX finds a way to avoid another launchpad rocket explosion

The company said it will reconfigure the pressure vessels in the liquid oxygen tanks. This will allow warmer helium to be added in a configuration known to be successful. SpaceX also plans design changes that will prevent the linings from buckling. In addition to making launches safer, these alterations are expected to speed up Falcon 9 rocket loading operations.

Another factor leading to the Cape Canaveral SpaceX rocket explosion in September was the presence of solid oxygen, caused in part by the colder helium. Investigators believe these solid particles could have become trapped and been the sources of friction ignition. The company previously aimed to return the Falcon 9 to flight last November.

A company with 14 years of failure and success

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explosion in September is considered the company’s most difficult, complex failure, CEO Elon Musk reported. In 2015, a similar rocket exploded after launch. The incident was caused by a ruptured metal support for a pressurized helium tank. SpaceX is known for creating rockets that can be launched and be landed on platforms at sea. Some of these innovative rockets have failed, but safe landings have been achieved.

For now, the company is focused on getting back on track with launches. It presently has about $10 billion worth of backlogged launch contracts. In addition to Sunday’s planned launch, SpaceX expects to launch six more Falcon 9 rockets and 60 satellites. It’s also under contract with NASA to bring astronauts up to the International Space Station.