Falcon 9 Launch Failure Scrambles Schedule

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With the failure of the Falcon 9 on Sunday, SpaceX’s only launch vehicle will be grounded for an unknown number of months while engineers identify the cause of the crash and make necessary changes to ensure that failure won’t happen again.

The stand down will scramble SpaceX’s schedule for the rest of this year and into 2016. SpaceX had planned at least 9 launches carrying at least 28 payloads through the first quarter of next year. The manifest included the debut of the company’s 28-engine Falcon Heavy launch vehicle and an in-flight abort test using a modified Falcon 9 rocket by the end 2015.

The payloads include 26 communications satellites for commercial operators, the joint U.S.-European Jason 3 ocean topography satellite, and a Dragon test article for the in-flight abort test.

SPACEX LAUNCH MANIFEST PRIOR TO FALCON 9 LAUNCH
DATE LAUNCH VEHICLE
LAUNCH SITE
PAYLOADSDESCRIPTION
8/8/15Falcon 9Vandenberg Jason 3U.S.-European ocean topography satellite will deliver data to NASA, NOAA, EUMETSAT and CNES.
 August 2015Falcon 9Cape Canaveral
SES 9SES communications satellite providing direct-to-home services in Northeast Asia, South Asia and Indonesia, and maritime communications to  Indian Ocean ships.
 August 2015Falcon 9Cape Canaveral Orbcomm OG211 second-generation Orbcomm communications satellites
Fourth Quarter 2015Falcon HeavyKennedy Space Center UnknownDemonstration flight of the 3-core, 28-engine heavy-lift launch vehicle
Fourth Quarter 2015Falcon 9Cape CanaveralEutelsat 117 West B & ABS 2APair of Boeing satellites using all-electric propulsion. Eutelsat 117 West B will provide communications services to Latin America. ABS 2A will serve Russia, India, Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean area.
Fourth Quarter 2015Falcon 9Cape CanaveralJCSAT 14Providing data, television and mobile communications services in Hawaii, Japan, East Asia, Russia, and Oceania.
Second Half 2015Modified Falcon 9VandenbergDragon test articleIn-flight abort test for the Dragon V2 crew vehicle
First Quarter 2016Falcon 9Cape CanaveralAmos 6Communications and broadcast services to U.S. East Coast, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
First Quarter 2016Falcon 9
VandenbergIridium Next10 Iridium Next mobile communications satellites

A Falcon 9 was to have launched 11 OG2 satellites for Orbcomm in August. Another rocket was scheduled to boost 10 Iridium Next satellites into orbit for Iridium during the first quarter of 2016.

SpaceX also was scheduled to launch communications satellites during this period for Eutelsat, SES, Spacecom, SKY Perfect JSAT Corp., and Asia Broadcast Satellite of Bermuda and Hong Kong.

The accident will likely mean a delay in the first demonstration flight of the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, which was scheduled to occur by the end of the year. SpaceX had originally scheduled to have the heavy-lift launcher flying by early 2013, but the company ran into delays.

PLANNED FALCON HEAVY MISSIONS
DATE LAUNCH VEHICLE
CUSTOMER
PAYLOADSDESCRIPTION
Fourth Quarter 2015Falcon HeavyNoneUnknownFirst demonstration flight of the 3-core, 28-engine heavy-lift launch vehicle
2016Falcon HeavyDODLightSail,Prox-1 nanosatellite, Green Propellant Infusion MissionSecond demonstration mission in support of USAF certification of Falcon Heavy
2016Falcon Heavy
ViaSat, Inc.ViaSat-2Ka-Band broadband satellite
2017Falcon Heavy
IridiumCommunications satelliteGeosynchronous satellite
2018Falcon Heavy
ArabsatArabsat 6ASaudia Arabian communications satellite