SpaceX has an intriguing plan in the making to get through its dry spell. The space corporation’s president Gwynne Shotwell told Reuters that the company plans in sending a rocket into space every 2 to 3 week once its launch pad in Florida is finished.
As it is known that the company had put its schedule on hold after a Falcon 9 exploded on its old launch pad at Cape Canaveral last year. Now its comeback mission took place just a few weeks ago, in mid-January at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
SpaceX new launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
The new launch pad that SpaceX is building is at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which is positioned just north to the one in Cape Canaveral. The launch pad at Cape Canaveral is still under repair. The new launch pad cost the company around $100 million, whereas the repairs of the old one will set the company back by roughly half that amount.
The corporation hasn’t forgotten that it was in the middle of a design upgrade despite ramping up its launch schedule. Shotwell said it’s still working on its rocket engines to improve its performance and address safety concerns. And it’s also designing new turbopumps and a software fix after NASA and government officials voiced their concerns about the current layout’s tendency to crack.
“For us, the concern was not the cracks, but do they grow over time? Would these cracks cause a flight failure? I think NASA is used to engines that aren’t quite as robust, so they just don’t want any cracks at all in the turbo machinery,” Shotwell explained. She also said that the new turbopumps would be placed before Crew Dragon’s first unmanned flight take places somewhere in November.
As per a recent Wall Street Journal report, the Government Accountability Office expects SpaceX to postpone its 2018 manned mission to the ISS, because of all the issues it has had to deal with. It’s not certain if the company can catch up with its original schedule with this one after another launch. But as long as no serious mishap happens again, we might finally see Crew Dragon fly astronauts to the space station.