Dallas: SpaceX’s loss of a Falcon 9 rocket in a midair fireball spurred the postponement of the company’s next mission, lofting a weather satellite designed to monitor global sea levels.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the delay Monday on its website, a day after the accident on a SpaceX cargo flight to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Falcon 9 is the rocket that was scheduled to fly the agency’s Jason-3 probe on 8 August.
The failure “has impacted the projected launch date for the Jason-3 mission,” NOAA said in an e-mailed statement, without elaborating. It is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and European partners to determine a new date.
Resetting the Jason-3 trip underscores the disruption triggered by the SpaceX blast, which occurred minutes after takeoff. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said “several thousand engineering-hours of review” had failed to turn up a cause, while analysts began handicapping how the accident would affect the next round of bidding for NASA cargo flights.
Orbital ATK Inc. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. are competing for the new funding after sharing the initial work of ferrying supplies to the space station.
NASA may delay awarding the next round of space-cargo delivery contracts after an accident involving an Orbital booster in October, said Nick Taborek, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. That decision, already postponed twice, is now scheduled for September.
Earlier this month, the Jason-3 satellite was transported to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California from France in preparation for the August launch. The satellite is designed to forecast hurricane intensity, predict surface waves for offshore operators and track the rise in sea levels, among other activities. Bloomberg
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