Space Exploration Technologies, better known as 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 company's president told Reuters on Monday.
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 autumn, before the Sept. 1 accident, which happened during a routine preflight test. The explosion destroyed a $200 million Israeli satellite and heavily damaged the launch pad.
Shotwell said repairs to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which are still underway, should cost "far less than half" of a new launch pad, which she said runs about $100 million. The new launch pad is at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, just north of the Cape Canaveral site.
SpaceX is also modifying the rocket's engines to increase performance and resolve potential safety concerns, said Shotwell.