Space X is ready to get back in the saddle again.
Founder and CEO Elon Musk noted on Thursday that the firm was “aiming” to test-fire the Falcon 9’s main engines on Wednesday at Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, and the launch of the rocket was planned for about “about three days later.”
A December 19th launch would be the first mission for SpaceX’s first since a Falcon 9 carrying supplies for the ISS broke apart during a June launch attempt. The failure this summer was caused by a failure in a defective strut in the upper-stage oxidizer tank of the Falcon 9.
SpaceX Dec. 19th mission to launch Orbcomm satellites
The upcoming mission will have a payload of 11 Orbcomm OG2 satellites, which will be released into low Earth orbit after the launch. The firm noted the launch was scheduled for between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET. on the 19th.
Orbcomm CEO Marc Eisenberg also commented in an interview on Wednesday that all of the satellites were fueled, attached to their dispensers and prepared whenever SpaceX confirmed a launch date.
Future Falcon 9 launches look to be close to on schedule
Of note, the new missions is using an upgraded, more powerful version of the Falcon 9 than the one that suffered an accident in June.
NASA has also recently confirmed SpaceX’s next launch of a Dragon capsule with a load of cargo for the ISS was scheduled for no sooner than January 8, 2016.
“We’re looking forward to having them whenever they’re ready to come to station,” noted Ven Feng, the manager of NASA’s ISS Transportation Integration Office, following Sunday’s launch of an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft.
Meanwhile, company sources note that on the other side of the country at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, operational activities are underway again on a fourth mission that SpaceX may also schedule for later in January
The Jason-3 weather satellite mission is headed up by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with both NASA and European partners, and is currently planning to launch around mid-January using the older version of the Falcon 9 rocket.