NASA’s first mission to bring a sample of near-Earth asteroid remains on track for launch on 8 September, despite the SpaceX rocket explosion that occurred on Thursday, the US space agency told PTI.
SpaceX, a US-based aerospace company, was conducting a routine test firing of its unmanned rocket Falcon 9 when the blast occurred at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
Initial assessments indicate the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and OSIRIS-REx spacecraft – which will bring back samples from the asteroid Bennu – are healthy and secure in the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41, which is 1.7 kilometres from SpaceX’s launch pad where the incident occurred.
SpaceX incident – while it was not a NASA launch – is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but our partners learn from each success and setback.
SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket that will deliver a communications satellite. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@SpaceX)
It is too early to know whether the incident will affect the schedule for upcoming NASA-related SpaceX launches to the International Space Station (ISS).
If there are SpaceX mission delays, other cargo spacecraft will be able to meet the space station’s cargo needs, and supplies and research investigations are at good levels.
“The launch for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Mission remains on track for 8 September,” NASA said.