The uncertainty comes from whether SpaceX's Falcon Heavy will fly this year, the complexity of the launch vehicle, and the fact that it has 27 engines in its first stage alone has made its official launch date hard to pin down.
The new engine model is more powerful and meant to replace the engines on its current Falcon 9 rocket system. The company has already hastened to declare that the incident will not affect the launch schedule Falcon 9.
The setback comes as SpaceX is having a record-setting year. No one was hurt, but now the company founded by Elon Musk, once again must find out what went wrong with his equipment. Unofficially, there could be as many as 20 launches carried out by SpaceX in 2017.
What's more, SpaceX hopes to lift off three more of its Falcon 9 rockets - a reusable launch vehicle that's poised to significantly lower the cost of access to space (and maybe save humankind) - before the year's end.
SpaceX said Wednesday that one of its rocket engines exploded on November 4 during a test at its Texas facility.
"All safety protocols were followed during the time of this incident", Ars Technica reports company spokesman, John Taylor, as saying.
The company said that "we conducted a thorough and completely transparent investigation into the root causes of the explosion". The launch is scheduled to take place at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and a spokesperson told the Post that there are no current plans to delay or change the launch manifest.
Musk has actually pulled several improvements, like uprated engines and the titanium grid fins into earlier generations of the Falcon 9 Block 4.
When it failed, the Block 5 was undergoing a "LOX drop" test. He said that the Heavy is a complex rocket which has 27 first-stage engines and it too could explode. What do the photos show?
A source told Ars Technica the explosion occurred before the engine was sacked and happened when liquid oxygen (LOX) was added to the engine to check for leaks.
A Falcon 9 rocket launches with cryogenic fog trailing it into the sky on January 14, 2017. SpaceX has three engine test stands in use at McGregor: one for the Merlin line of engines, one for the newer and more powerful Raptor, and one dedicated to upper-stage engines. Block 4 Merlin engine testing should resume within the coming days. "We can make all the block-fours we want", the source said.
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