Story 2015-09-13 MA9G SpaceX rocket grounded for a 'couple more months'

SpaceX rocket grounded for a 'couple more months'

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SpaceX plans to keep its Falcon 9 rocket grounded longer than planned following a launch accident in June that destroyed a space station cargo ship. "We’re taking more time than we originally envisioned, but I don’t think any one of our customers wants us to race to the cliff and fail again,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said. The cause of the June accident is "an easy problem to go fix," Shotwell said, adding the company would take extra time to "make sure we’re not seeing something like that anywhere throughout the vehicle or the supply chain.”

The June 28 accident is believed to have been triggered by a flawed support strut in the rocket's upper-stage engine. The metal strut broke about two minutes after the rocket lifted off from Florida, releasing a bottle of helium that caused the second-stage engine to become over-pressurized. Seconds later, the rocket exploded over the Atlantic Ocean. A Dragon cargo ship was destroyed when it hit the water. The accident, along with the failed Oct. 28 launch of an Orbital ATK Antares rocket, has left NASA dependent on Russia and Japan to resupply the $100 billion International Space Station

SpaceX has a backlog of nearly 60 launches, worth more than $7 billion, on its schedule. SpaceX also has been cleared to compete against industry stalwart United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, to fly U.S. military satellites.
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