SpaceX says accident probe will not slow
space taxi effort
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[September 21, 2016]
By Irene Klotz
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - SpaceX on
Thursday said efforts to develop and certify a space taxi for NASA are
not being slowed by an investigation into a launch pad fire that
destroyed its rocket and a $200 million Israeli communications
Boeing Co and SpaceX, owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon
Musk, are building spaceships to fly NASA astronauts to the
International Space Station, a $100 billion laboratory that flies 250
miles (400 km) above Earth.
NASA, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is looking
to turn over crew transport to SpaceX and Boeing before the end of 2018,
breaking a Russian monopoly. SpaceX is aiming for its first test flight
to the station in 2017.
“We’re full-steam head for certification. We’re still trying to remain
on schedule,” Abhishek Tripathi, director of certification for SpaceX,
said during a webcast panel discussion at an American Institute of
Aeronautics and Astronautics conference in Long Beach, California.
“I know what I need to do in the next day and in the next month,”
Tripathi said, adding that his work is not being affected by the
accident investigation. SpaceX, with oversight from the Federal Aviation
Administration, is working to figure out why one of its Falcon 9 rockets
burst into flames on Sept. 1 as it was being fueled for a routine pre
launch test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The blaze
destroyed the communications satellite, owned by Israel’s Space
Communication Ltd, which was scheduled to be carried into orbit two days
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SpaceX has not yet disclosed how much damage was done at its primary
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said on Wednesday the company was
hoping to resume flights in November at a second, nearly complete
launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, adjacent to the Air Force
The company, which has a backlog of 70 missions for NASA and
commercial customers, worth more than $10 billion, also flies from
Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
(Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
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