SpaceX won’t try to launch a rocket again until next year

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A video still of the Sept. 1, 2016 launchpad explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
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Thomson Reuters

SpaceX, it seems, won’t get back to launching rockets until January 2017 at the earliest.

The announcement, made via the company’s website on Wednesday, comes less than a week after SpaceX’s CEO Glenn Shotwell said Falcon 9 rockets would resume launching before the end of the year.

The pending launch – of 10 next-generation Iridium Communications satellites – would be the first since a Falcon 9 rocket turned into a huge fireball during a routine launchpad test in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

While the Sept. 1 accident didn’t hurt anyone, it did destroy a communications satellite that Facebook intended to lease to provide web access to Africa. It also rattled some NASA officials, who plan to use the rockets to launch astronauts into space. (Until then, the agency will have to pay Russia for rocket launches – one of which recently failed.)

SpaceX, which is owned by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, has been investigating the blast ever since, and suggested in its press release that it will not return to flight until that investigation is complete.

Musk has called the fireball “the most difficult and complex failure” in his company’s history, and has released some details about the possible cause via Twitter.

The company provided the following update at its website on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. ET:

“We are finalizing the investigation into our September 1 anomaly and are working to complete the final steps necessary to safely and reliably return to flight, now in early January with the launch of Iridium-1. This allows for additional time to close-out vehicle preparations and complete extended testing to help ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance prior to launch.”

SpaceX has not yet released its full report about the accident.