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SpaceX is looking to move forward with launches at an almost unheard of pace this year. After a new launch pad is installed in Florida next week, all systems will be go and the company plans to launch a new rocket every two to three weeks. This is quite an ambitious goal considering their launchpad was damaged following an explosion last September. NASA and the US Air Force, two of SpaceX's largest customers, have voiced concerns about the explosion and non standard fueling procedures that SpaceX has used.
The fast paced schedule was planned for last year as well, but was scrapped following the Falcon 9 explosion. There is a growing demand for an economic launch vehicle following the decommissioning of the Space Shuttle. Current launches cost around $60 million, a figure SpaceX is hoping will drop as the company gains experience. They believe their reusable technology can reduce the cost of space travel a hundredfold. SpaceX has a reported waiting list of more than 70 missions, valued at over $10 billion. NASA and the US Air Force plan to use SpaceX to bring astronauts to and from the Space Station starting in the latter half of 2018.
The new launches will incorporate design changes learned from the September explosion, as well as a pump redesign following a report which stated that cracks could form around the propulsion system. The two issues aren't related, but both US customers have asked for the redesign. The first launch of the new program is scheduled for March and will contain a communications satellite.