Monday's planned return to flight for Space Exploration Technologies Corp. comes more than four months after the company's most hard setback ever, according to CEO Elon Musk, when its Falcon 9 rocket exploded on a Cape Canaveral launchpad on September 1.
Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket company has been cleared to resume flying following a launch pad explosion four months ago, the U.S. federal aviation Administration (FAA) said at the weekend.
As SpaceX crews attempted to conduct a countdown rehearsal and engine test firing at Vandenberg the engines ignited before turning off seconds later, while the rocket remains anchored to the launch pad.
Elon Musk's SpaceX previously said that it was ready to launch on Sunday, January 8, but conceded it had not yet received a necessary license from the Federal Aviation Administration.
SpaceX plans to resume flights as early as next week after finding the cause of an explosion that destroyed a rocket and satellite on a Florida launch pad in September.
Fueling of the rocket with super-chilled RP-1 kerosene and liquid oxygen will begin around a half-hour before launch, and the Iridium satellites - designed and built by Thales Alenia Space and Orbital ATK - will be switched to internal battery power for the journey into orbit. But if, by any chance, there is some hitch in the launch of the rocket then the credibility of SpaceX will be punched down to the ground.
Liftoff of the Space Exploration Technologies rocket is planned for 10:22 a.m. from Space Launch Complex-4 on South Base.
Before that, SpaceX had logged 18 successful launches of the Falcon 9 - including six of 12 planned supply missions to the ISS carried out as part of a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. The helium is needed to maintain oxygen tank pressure. In the next week, the company is expected to attempt its first launch since that accident took place.
SpaceX says it has changed its helium loading procedure to address the issue in the short term, and will redesign the pressure vessels as a longer-term solution. This is to make sure that the Iridium satellites are placed in the right place in space.