Last year was for American companies is ambiguous. In the month of April, the average first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket successfully turned to land on offshore platform. But after 5 months (in September), on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, there was an explosion of media of the same type.
Of course, a successful landing is a great achievement. The head of SpaceX Elon Musk has repeatedly stated about the necessity of reducing the cost of rocket launches. The repeated use of the 1st stage of Falcon 9 is about thirty percent reduction in the cost of placing a payload into orbit. However, to run the technology will take several years.
Due to explosion on the launch pad was lost a very useful load - mounted in the head part of the rocket, the Israeli telecommunications satellite Amos-6. NASA warned the leadership of SpaceX about the risks that are associated with the refueling rocket fuel immediately before the start. However, the former Agency head Sean O'keefe said that the incident is a natural phenomenon during the development phase of technologies. It should be noted that the first rocket family, Falcon launched less than 10 years ago.
What to expect in 2017.
This year, according to experts, the situation will change for the better. After the September accident, the company SpaceX has halted the launch. Investigation of the causes of the incident concluded in December 2016. The next launch should take place later this month. The media need to bring into orbit Iridium satellites-1. 10 spacecraft that SpaceX and Iridium will be sent into space, must be the beginning of the modernization of the orbital group, one of the largest operators in the world, numbering today 72 satellite.
For a complete upgrade of the group operator company SpaceX will receive 492 million U.S. dollars. The next launch of devices Iridium will take place after 3 months, then the launches will be carried out, as expected, with a step of 2 months. The explosion in September suspended the deployment of the upgraded Iridium group. Unless there are any unforeseen circumstances, the upgrade will end in 2018 (earlier it was supposed to complete it by the end of 2017).
First after the accident, the start will be made from the Baikonur air base Vandenberg in the County of Santa Barbara (CA). It is possible that in this month's company SpaceX will launch a rocket again, only this time from Cape Canaveral. Commercial cargo - a satellite of EchoStar. The fact that such major companies as EchoStar and Iridium, trusted by SpaceX, speaks volumes.
Also in early 2017 SpaceX's first chance to make a commercial launch previously used the 1st stage of the rocket. The most likely customer for this start - global satellite operator SES. In 2013, his unit was the first commercial satellite that the Falcon 9 rocket launched into geosynchronous transfer orbit. Start with a used Falcon 9 1st stage should be approximately forty million dollars, not sixty million dollars, to a new host. This is the assessment of experts, the company SpaceX this question has not yet commented. The launch of SES-8 was also postponed after the September crash. In the interests of SpaceX is to prove that the technology of repeated use of the elements of the missiles still works.
In the middle of summer 2017, the company SpaceX plans to make the launch extra-heavy the Falcon Heavy. Its capacity of 54.4 t on low reference orbit. This is almost double the figure of the powerful exploited today in the world of rocket Delta IV Heavy.
As expected, the Falcon Heavy will launch from pad 39A at Kennedy Space center (FL). The cost of launching the Falcon Heavy is estimated at ninety millions of dollars, which can significantly reduce the cost of flights to Mars and the moon.
In 2014, NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX for the construction of manned space vehicles CST-100 and Dragon V2. Dragon V2 is practically a one-piece ship that can transport in cargo mode for up to 4 people with a payload of 2.5 tons In passenger mode, it takes on Board up to 7 people. NASA believed that by 2017, American astronauts will be able to go to the ISS exclusively from the us territory without the help of the Russian side. The truth in time to meet failed. The reason for the delay - technical difficulties worked on by SpaceX and Boeing. Now it is assumed that the fourteen day test flight with crew aboard Dragon V2 will take place in spring 2018, and the Cockpit starts in August 2018. This will be preceded by the flights without crew, to be implemented in 2017, the year that otherwise would be disrupted time. The launch of the Falcon 9 with the Dragon V2 will be expected in November 2017.