News World SpaceX to ramp up its rocket launches to record rate

SpaceX to ramp up its rocket launches to record rate

SpaceX is planning to ramp up rocket launches thanks to a new site in Florida. Photo: AAP
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Private space exploration company SpaceX plans to launch its Falcon 9 rockets every two to three weeks, its fastest rate since starting launches in 2010, once a new launch pad is put into service in Florida next week.

The ambitious plan comes only five months after a SpaceX rocket burst into flames on the launch pad at the company’s original launch site in Florida.

SpaceX, controlled by billionaire Elon Musk, has only launched one rocket since then, in mid-January.

“We should be launching every two to three weeks,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

SpaceX was approaching that pace last year, before the September 1 accident, which happened during a routine preflight test. The explosion destroyed a $US200 million ($A262 million) Israeli satellite and heavily damaged the launch pad.

SpaceX is also modifying the rocket’s engines to increase performance and resolve potential safety concerns, said Shotwell.

NASA has hired SpaceX to taxi astronauts to and from the International Space Station starting in late 2018.

SpaceX is one of two companies certified to fly military and national security satellites for the Air Force, the other being United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp.

The company has a backlog of more than 70 missions, worth more than $10 billion. It has successfully flown 27 out of 29 times since the Falcon 9’s debut in 2010.

The company flew eight missions in 2016 before the launch pad accident in September grounded the fleet.

The rocket returned to flight last month, flying from a second launch site in California, which is only used for satellites heading into polar or high inclination orbits.

A fourth launch site in Texas is under construction.

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