SpaceX: “We will catch up”

Gwynne Shotwell, president and CEO of rocket company SpaceX told delegates to the Satellite 2017 show in Washington that her company will likely launch six ‘pre-flown’ rockets this year.

The first re-used rocket will carry SES-10 for the Luxembourg-based satellite operator around the end of March. “And we’ll bring this rocket back, too,” Shotwell said.

But SpaceX has suffered major delays following a catastrophic explosion on September 1st when it lost a rocket and the Amos-6 satellite.

“We do anticipate re-flying about six vehicles and with pre-flown boosters this year, which should take some of the pressure off production,” Shotwell said.

Launching both the ‘pre-flown’ versions, as well as all-new rockets, almost side by side is vital if SpaceX is to recover some of its lost backlog – and its reputation. While all observers recognise the inevitable delays created by the September 1st loss, there are plenty of critics – off the record – who complain about the lack of transparent information – and even misinformation – from privately-held SpaceX.

Also key to an increased launch frequency are repairs to the extensively damaged Launch Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, and brought back into use. SpaceX has used the nearby Launch Pad 39A for its recent Florida launches – and will use this Pad for the upcoming launch of EchoStar-23 now scheduled for the middle of next week.

Shotwell told delegates that the Pad 40 repairs will be completed by this summer. “Once we’ve got two pads we should have plenty of capacity,” she said.

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