Elon Musk Announces First SpaceX Launch Since Falcon 9 Explosion
Aiming for Falcon rocket static fire at Cape Canaveral on the 16th and launch about three days later— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 10, 2015
On June 28, a failed steel strut caused SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket to explode while on an (unmanned) resupply mission to the ISS. The explosion was a huge blow to the company, which had had a perfect safety record for seven years before that. But now, they're bouncing back, as they're launching an upgraded version of the same rocket to low-Earth orbit.
SpaceX had scheduled the launch of the newest version of the Falcon 9 rocket, Falcon 9v1.1, in September, but after the June 28 explosion, the debut was delayed in order to ensure that everything was in working order. The upgraded rocket will be slightly taller, and will have several modifications that will give it a 33 percent increase in performance, according to SpaceX.
The December 19 launch will take 11 satellites to low orbit, about 600 miles above Earth's surface. SpaceX will then attempt to re-land the rocket, which would mark the first time that a rocket capable of carrying a payload to low-Earth orbit could be reused, saving SpaceX, and space exploration in general, millions of dollars.