SpaceX’s target launch date for returning to flight slips to early January

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After targeting a return-to-flight mission on December 16th, SpaceX now says it’s next Falcon 9 flight will occur sometime in early January. The launch will still send a series of 10 small satellites into orbit for Iridium Communications, which was also the plan for the December mission. However, the date change will slightly prolong the company’s hiatus from spaceflight, which was sparked when one of its Falcon 9 rockets exploded on a launchpad in September.

SpaceX says the investigation into that accident is still being finalized, though CEO Elon Musk said the company had essentially determined what caused the explosion. The delay will allow the company to “complete the…

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